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Langford Costco workers douse brush fire, keep it from losing control

Fire chief suspects discarded cigarette sparked fire in drought conditions
Langford Fire Rescue was called about a small brush fire near the Costco on McCallum Road in Langford on Monday (July 17) at 7:05 p.m. (Black Press Media file)

Location was key in containing a wildfire near the Costco in Langford on Monday (July 17) evening.

Langford Fire Chief Chris Aubrey said a number of people called the department at 7:05 p.m. Monday night shortly after the fire broke out, allowing for a fast response from the department. The fire was in a small area with a limited amount of brush near the Costco on McCallum Road, meaning there was no space for it to grow, according to Aubrey.

Quick action from Costco staff, who threw water from buckets at the fire, also helped contain the blaze to around 30 by 20 feet.

“It was pretty windy last night, so I was awfully concerned,” he said. “Another location with those windy conditions and it could have been a really significant fire.”

The cause is still being determined, although Aubrey said it was likely a discarded cigarette butt.

Conditions are so dry in and around Langford that the area has effectively reached peak wildfire season conditions six weeks ahead of schedule, said Aubrey.

“I don’t see any relief … that little sprinkling of rain did nothing to our wildfire rating.”

This means that outside of the usual restrictions on open burns and campfires, the area’s also at risk for more unusual human-caused fires, like people cutting their grass and a mower blade hitting a rock, or using a chainsaw or the exhaust of an ATV.

Aubrey said that means people should consider wetting their lawn before cutting it, or putting off doing it altogether.

“So little rain can create a false sense of security. We need a deluge of one or two days rain to make a difference.”

The fire department has free portable pouches for discarded cigarette butts and Aubrey urged residents to call as soon as possible if they see a fire.

“We need to work together to keep the number of fires down.”

READ MORE: 1.39M hectares: B.C. wildfire season now worst on record