Alistair Taylor

I have a solution for abandoned beach fires

Out On A Limb with Alistair Taylor

I was down having lunch at Ken Forde Beach in Willow Point one recent sunny noon.

It’s always a lovely spot with the sun out and the water a deep blue. On those kinds of days the mountains of the adjacent mainland are whitecapped, standing like a barrier to the interior of the province.

Strewn along the high tide mark on the beach are driftwood logs and smooth, wave-worn bits of wood. It’s this wood that attracts the hundreds of beach fire enthusiasts (okay, and the view too) who come to roast hot dogs and marshmallows and spend a pleasant evening with family and friends. There’s a plentiful supply of firewood and the big logs make great fireside seats when rearranged around a fire pit. It’s one of the great things to do in Campbell River.

But with it comes some responsibility and not everybody fulfills their obligation to extinguish their fires. Too often, the fire department has to be called out to douse a smouldering log that either caught from an adjacent fire or was deliberately lit as part of the fire.

Many people do try to extinguish these fires but they don’t do a very good job of it and even a small ember can be kept alive and even whipped up into a bigger blaze by the prevailing sea breezes. I’ve written about this many times and it’s probably never going to go away. That’s why I’m happy that I may have a solution.

One of the biggest pains when you have a beach fire is, admittedly, having to get enough water from the adjacent ocean to extinguish the fire. Many people forget to include a water bucket when they’re loading up the hot dog sticks and the matches. Consequently, they gather up their empty pop bottles or cans and transfer a few splashes of water from the chuck to the fire and feel satisfied they’ve done their due diligence; only to have embers fanned all night by the wind, keeping the fire alive and even spreading it.

I’ve seen the ends of logs glowing like a cigarette on a sunny morning after somebody obviously didn’t put a fire out well enough the evening before. Never mind the fact that they shouldn’t include the larger logs as part of the fire or put the fire up against it.

So, there I was one recent day contemplating this problem after eating my lunch and noticing smouldering wood in a fire from the night before. I had a water bottle which I used to douse the fire as best I could, walking back and forth from the water’s edge to the fire. Sometimes it’s hard to fill a container, large or small, when the water’s really shallow or the waves are big and sweeping up the beach making it hard to scoop up a good amount of water.

It’s tiring and time consuming walking back and forth and I thought, “what if there was an easier source of water, would people be more diligent about putting their fires out?”

Then I had an epiphany: what if the city installed a tap and hose at the Seawalk/beach edge? Then it would be easier to fill up whatever container you have and it wouldn’t be as far away (at low tide).

My wife Lynne improved my suggestion by adding that the city could install one of those blue and white ‘hydrants’ like the one at Frank James Park where they promote our cool, clean drinking water? If a bucket was left there too, then it could be used (but it would likely get stolen anyway).

Still, an easy source of water that makes filling up a container a snap would encourage people to fully extinguish their fires.