Editorial: Don’t be an idiot, take fire precautions

The first wildfire of the season struck near Mesachie Lake last week.

The first wildfire of the season struck near Mesachie Lake last week.

It doesn’t bode well for fire season this year that it wasn’t even the end of June before such a blaze had the Coastal Fire Centre and crews hopping.

It was a human-caused fire, too, as far too many of them are.

According to the BC Wildfire Service, from April 1 through June 27 they responded to 237 wildfires in the province, and 165 of them were cause by people.

They state very clearly, “Human-caused fires are completely preventable and unnecessarily tie up crucial firefighting resources that could be used to deal with naturally occurring wildfires.”

Every time, as we see the smoke haze the sun, or smell it drift through our windows open for the warm summer night air, we wonder at those whose (usually) carelessness start such blazes that can threaten the lives and property of so many.

Is it arrogance?

By now one would think we’ve all heard the warnings and educational bulletins.

Never light a campfire or keep it burning in windy conditions (embers can carry and spark a fire far too easily).

Don’t build your fire on flammable materials like branches, grass or other natural or man-made debris.

Don’t leave your campfire unattended. And it seems like a no-brainer to have water and a shovel around so you can put it out if it begins to get out of hand.

It also seems like a no-brainer to make sure it’s out and the ashes are cold before you leave the scene where you had it lit.

Then there’s the ever-popular and often-ignored caution against flicking your cigarette butts willy-nilly into tinder dry fuel — read, the grass at the roadside or on the forest floor. (Actually, you should be taking them with you, since dumping them is littering in any case. But if you’re going to litter, at least take precautions not to become responsible for a brushfire.)

And yet, people neglect one or more of these common sense rules, thinking the unthinkable will never happen to them.

It’s far too easy for our woods to turn into another Fort McMurray.

To a large extent we can prevent it. It doesn’t take much. Don’t look at the precautions as an inconvenience. Look at it as a life saver.