Every year, Langley Township and City firefighters will be called out to several fires sparked alongside dry roadsides.
Most of them could be prevented.
"The bark mulch ones are mostly cigarettes," said assistant Langley Township fire chief Bruce Ferguson, who is yet again urging residents to be careful and mindful of the fire safety laws.
Fires at intersections and along the edges of the Trans-Canada Highway are the most frequent, and the highway fires are the most notorious from a firefighting point of view.
Dry grass is another frequent source of fire, as is the dead material that layers the ground under trees or shrubs.
"The only difficulty is if they get ahead of us too fast," said Ferguson.
In August of 2010, a brush fire nearly got out of control along the highway.
The fire began just east of the 248th Street overpass, and jumped to start a second blaze.
It raged as far east as 256th Street.
Firefighters rushed virtually every available piece of equipment out to extinguish the blazes, while dozens of drivers called in with their cellphones to report the fire.
There were 50 firefighters and every available pumping truck, except one. Surrey firefighters stepped up to man the Murrayville firehall in case a second emergency hit.
Nearby residents doused the roofs of their houses with garden hoses as cinders rained down.
Highway fires may start
from cigarettes, or they may be caused by hot metal parts dropping off moving vehicles.
Another cause for concern is the setting of backyard fires by residents.
Currently, all outdoor fires are banned in the Township, Ferguson said.
That includes fires in firepits - only barbecues are allowed.
"We've handed out quite a few tickets this year," Ferguson said.
The Township is taking a zero-tolerance approach due to the fire risk and the air quality issues.
Every resident caught burning an illegal fire, whether it's garbage, yard waste, construction waste, or a backyard cookout, faces a $200 fine.
The fine is the same in Langley City, noted City
fire prevention officer Dave Sanders.
While the City's policy isn't quite zero tolerance, that doesn't mean people won't get a ticket on a first offence, he said.
As in the Township, only grill barbecues, powered by gas or briquettes, are allowed. Firepits are banned, even for backyard cooking.
Many fires come to the notice of the Langley fire departments because neighbours complain about the smoke.
Fines can escalate if prohibited material, like treated wood, is burned.
Fines can range up to $1,000 or $1,500, but that is rare, said Ferguson, and typically reserved for people who have repeatedly violated burning bylaws in multiple ways.