Photo by Stephen Dann/Used Under Creative Commons License

Fire takes Quadra house despite efforts of residents, neighbours

‘It’s not that the fire department doesn’t want to go out there…it’s that they’re not allowed to’

Residents of the Bold Point neighbourhood of Quadra Island had to battle a house fire themselves by pumping water from a nearby creek on Thursday night, but soon retreated to watch the blaze take the home – all but the chimney – to the ground.

The home was outside the fire protection area on Quadra Island, according to Strathcona Regional District (SRD) director for Discovery Island and Mainland Inlets Jim Abram, so there was little that could be done. The residents and their neighbours did their best, “but it only takes, what, 15 minutes for a fire to take down a house?” Abrams says.

So why couldn’t the Quadra Fire Department respond and help them out?

“It’s not that the fire department doesn’t want to go out there,” Abrams says. “Of course they do. It’s that they‘re not allowed to. It’s very, very sad that what happened, happened, especially just coming up on Christmas time and with everyone getting ready for the holidays to have a tragedy like this is devastating for our island and the people of our island. But the fix – and there are a lot of people working on one – well, we just can’t find one.”

While the fire protection services on Quadra are not under the mandate of the SRD, Abrams says, The SRD is expecting a report in January that would outline how more fire protection could be provided to Quadra residents that are outside the current protection zone.

“There has been a movement by some people on the north Island to try and get the fire coverage extended,” Abram says, “and we’ve let them know that we will be putting together a report of anything we can find that may help them be able to create fire service in their area. That report is going to be presented to the board at the first January meeting.”

He’s not optimistic about what it’s going to say, however.

“None of the possibilities we know about right now are really feasible,” Abram admits. “We’re trying really hard to solve this problem, but we just keep hitting stone walls.”

One option, Abrams says, is for the entire Island to have a referendum to pay for the current fire coverage to be extended, “which would be an outrageously huge amount of money, because the regulations for fire protection require that the maximum distance from a fire hall (that service can be provided) is 6 km.”

So small fire halls would have to be placed approximately 12 km apart all over the island for everyone to have coverage, Abram says, which is just financially unrealistic.

For each hall, Abram says, “you’re talking about $1 million or more just to build them,” and then you have to have to have equipment and staff to operate out of them.

“We’re talking outrageous dollars, and where would that come from?” Abram asks rhetorically. “Well, it would have to come from property taxation, and there just aren’t enough properties on the north Island to support that kind of taxation. Even if you included the entire island so that everybody was paying for fire protection for the entire island, they just couldn’t afford it.”

So because the current fire department, Abrams says, “has said there’s just no way that they have available to them to extend their service,” and building individual fire halls in every neighbourhood that wants fire coverage is extremely costly, what are the other possibilities?

“The only way we can see something happening is if those individual neighbourhoods built a line around a specified area and say ‘this area is going to build a fire hall,’ and that area would have to build it, supply it and staff it.”

And the likelihood of a neighbourhood “with maybe 30 houses,” to be able to come together supply themselves with a fire hall, Abram says, “is very slim.”

The SRD is, however, looking at supplying a few areas with saltwater pump systems from the shore that residents can access to help. There’s already one in place in the Granite Bay neighbourhood and they will be installing another in the Surge Narrows/Read Island area, “but those can only reach so far and the people in those neighbourhoods need to have standardized equipment that they can hook into that system. It only serves a limited area, but it’s a start,” Abram says. “We gotta do everything we can to make things safer in terms of fire protection. We’ll continue working on it and cooperating with everybody involved.”

The report on options for fire protection on Quadra is set to go before the SRD board Jan. 10.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

New electric buses are coming to school districts. (Submitted photo)
New electric school buses will drive North Island forward

Travel on electric school buses is smoother, quieter, and healthier than traditional diesel buses

Destroyed window at Ministry of Social Development offices in Campbell River. Photo supplied by Campbell River RCMP
Police investigating arson in downtown Campbell River

Fire set at BC Employment and Assistance Office

May 3-9 was Mental Health Week, and the Campbell River RCMP is encouraging people, especially men, to seek emotional help if it’s needed. Black Press file photo
Campbell River RCMP encouraging men to seek emotional help if needed

‘Taking care of our Mental Health is not simply about accessing counselling,’ says Const. Maury Tyre

Campbell River’s waste collection schedule will be changing after Victoria Day. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror.
Campbell River Garbage pickup schedule changing after May Long Weekend

Pickup day will change after every statutory holiday

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Black bear tranquillized, relocated after wandering around residential Ladysmith

A juvenile black bear was spotted near 2nd Avenue earlier Friday morning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushing B.C. to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

A spectator looks on as the Olympic Caldron is relit in downtown Vancouver, Wednesday, February 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Small majority of B.C. residents in favour of a Vancouver 2030 Olympic bid: survey

A new survey shows a split over the possibility of public money being spent to organize and host the winter games

Most Read