With tinder dry conditions and no rain in sight, the City of Delta has raised the fire danger rating for the city to extreme.
Delta has also ordered a ban on all propane barbecues, grills or cooking devices as well as no charcoal or wood burning barbeques in all parks, trails and natural lands in the city. There is also a ban on open fires, flames, candles, tiki torches and chafing fuels in all parks.
At Monday’s council meeting, Delta Fire Chief Guy McKintuck provided an update on additional fire prevention measures the fire department has and is taking.
“We will have the extreme rating in place until we get significant rainfall,” said McKintuck.
He said a few weeks ago, letters were sent out to over 2,500 residents and businesses along the wildland urban interface zone with preventative tips around green waste composting as well as how homeowners can fire smart their homes.
“This has been well-received. We have even scheduled some times to go to homes and meet with residents and provide a fire assessment, so it’s been a positive initiative,” he said. “We are also increasing our public messaging on social media and the reader boards as well. Park and beach patrols have also been increased and we will have a greater presence.”
In recent weeks, Delta Fire has had two deployments with the BC Wildfire Service with crews and equipment stationed in the Lytton fire area as well as Spences Bridge, Ashcroft and Boston Bar.
He said all of those crews are now back in Delta.
He added that on July 11, there was a ministerial order on train speeds in communities.
“If there is an extreme fire danger rating in a community and the temperatures are 30 degrees and above, trains will be required to reduce their speed,” he said. “How this might impact Delta…there could be some traffic delays on some of the crossings, so it could be double or triple the time.”
In the past few weeks, Delta staff have been working with their parks patrols, bylaw staff and the fire department getting prepared on additional fire safety and education in their parks.
“This past weekend we did have parks patrol staff working with a high degree of compliance observed,” said acting city manager Marcy Sangret. “They [parks patrol staff] focused largely on Watershed Park, Delta Nature Reserve as well as a number of sites in the South. We will continue to do that so long as the fire rating is where it is at and we will continue to work with the fire department as well.”
Mayor George Harvie said as much messaging as possible will be done to ensure the community stays in compliance with the fire bans.“It will be a number of weeks, if not months that we will be under this threat of fire,” he said. “We’ve been through this before, many years ago, and we just want to do everything we can to ensure we are on top of this. I want to urge to members of the public to be aware of the fire risks. Use caution and use common sense.”