Editorial: Potential for disaster

Despite daily news coverage of wildfires burning in B.C.’s interior — where residents have lost homes — and in nearby Washington state —where the cost has been far higher, with the loss of three lives — the message still doesn’t seem to be getting through.

Within an eight-hour period between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, Township firefighters were called  to two separate grass fires, both of which had all the hallmarks of having been caused by human activity.

The first fire, which was ignited sometime before midnight on Tuesday, consumed a section of field near homes and businesses along 200 Street.

The other, discovered early the following morning, had the potential to destroy one of Langley’s most picturesque parks — Derby Reach.

Luckily, in both cases, the fires were spotted quickly and Township crews were able to extinguish them before much damage could be done.

But as one the hottest and driest summers on record draws to a close, the potential for devastation remains extreme.  And while we hope the stretch of rain forecast for the coming week will help to reduce the risk, this is hardly the time to become complacent.

Langley’s most recent brushes with disaster come amid reports that campers at Harrison Lake, where more than 1,300 hectares recently burned, were not only ignoring the ongoing campfire ban, but (get this) actually setting off fireworks in the midst of the tinder dry forest.

While this assertion, if true, certainly takes the prize for moronic behaviour, that still doesn’t excuse casual carelessness — whether it’s the flick of a cigarette out a car window onto a  street or dropping a butt in a parking lot.

No, pavement isn’t flammable, but all it takes is an accidental kick or a light breeze to roll a glowing cigarette butt into a parched ditch or onto a dusty boulevard and the rest could be history.

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