Disaster was averted but it was touch and go for some Lake Cowichan residents in the early morning hours of July 11 after a brush fire broke out in the Mac-Donald Road area.
Authorities were dispatched just before 4 a.m. and some residents were evacuated soon thereafter.
The fire originated in the backyard of a property bordering a creek that runs along the west side of MacDonald Road, Lake Cowichan RCMP Detachment Commander Sgt. Wes Olsen said.
The flames spread quickly and damaged the back of three houses, before consuming several vehicles and outbuildings.
"The area in behind the houses is dense brush and trees and there was the potential to start a forest fire within the town limits of Lake Cowichan due to the current extreme fire hazard," Olsen said.
With residents moved to safety, the Lake Cowichan Fire Department set to work extinguishing the blaze. Police secured the scene for further investigation. BC Ambulance Service paramedics were also on scene but no injuries were reported.
Olsen raved about the professionalism of the local volunteer fire crew.
"It was truly impressive how the local fire department was able to deploy as quick as they did and put out the fire with relatively minor damage during an extreme fire hazard situation," he said. "The town of Lake Cowichan is lucky to have such a well-trained and dedicated group of firefighters."
With more warm, dry weather on the horizon, Olsen reminds the public about the importance of emergency preparedness and having an evacuation plan in the event it’s required.
"Residents should ensure they have proper insurance coverage in place to protect their home and valuables," he said, noting a good place to start is to create a detailed list of your possessions – along with photographs or video – and to keep the documentation in a safe location like a safety deposit box at a bank.
Olsen also reminds the community fires can start in any number of ways and it’s important to ensure everyone does their part in prevention.
Cigarettes are the number one cause of forest fires and should be completely extinguished.
Burning bans should be adhered to and paints, chemicals and fuel should be stored appropriately.
"And be careful to properly dispose of petroleum-based-product soiled rags as they can spontaneously combust and cause a fire," he added.
The cause of the July 11 fire is still unknown but the Island District RCMP’s General Investigation Section has taken over the case. Those with information about this incident are encouraged to call the Lake Cowichan RCMP detachment at 250-749-6668.