Lightning-fast grass fire shows risk in Maple Ridge

Tinder-dry conditions dangerous

A quickly spreading grass fire Thursday afternoon in Port Haney has brought home the fact that it’s dangerously, dry, and not only in the forests.

Video posted Thursday showed two people lighting a bit of cotton fluff from cottonwood trees on fire on a boulevard on River Road, just west of the Port Haney West Coast Express station, after 4 p.m.

But the fire raced on to the parched grass in front of homes, before neighbours put it out.

It could have been worse, if it hadn’t been stopped quickly.

“Probably would have gone to bushes, then could have gone to houses … yes,” said Maple Ridge fire chief Howard Exner.

“It’s an indication of how dry everything actually really is out there.”

Exner said that residents should be watering their bushes to keep them from getting too dried out. While there are watering restrictions on, it’s still possible to water twice a week.

“Keeping your lawn somewhat green will help prevent fire from moving through your property, as well,” Exner said.

The fire department also recommends that residents use deciduous or leaf-type bushes when landscaping next to their homes because evergreen bushes are flammable when they dry out.

“Certainly in these dry times, it’s an example of why we’re concerned about everybody’s behaviour around fire and why we curtail backyard fires.”

There’s currently a ban on campfires throughout all of Maple Ridge. Pitt Meadows has permanently banned campfires.

Later on Thursday, just after 9 p.m., a hedge caught fire in the 24900-block Dewdney Trunk Road. But neighbours jumped in there, as well, and put out the fire before it spread to homes.

Exner said that cooler weather is expected to return in the next few days. Thursday’s high temperature at Fire Hall No. 1 hit 34 C.

Maple Ride’s residential Stage 1 water restrictions in place allow watering from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m., on Wednesdays and Saturdays only, for even-numbered addresses, while watering is allowed those hours on Thursdays and Sundays for odd-numbered addresses.

As well, people can water their shrubs and gardens at any time if using a handheld hose, soaker hose, water container or drip irrigation.

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