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Avoiding Disaster

Emergency Preparedness advice from a long-time resident

Photo by John Dudley

In late September 1980 before Cypress Bowl became a provincial park, extensive logging had taken place in the area and slash burning was underway.

It had been a long dry period with no appreciable wind, however one evening a strong southeasterly wind started to blow and the fire started to spread out of control rapidly.

I was a volunteer fireman at the time and remember watching trees bursting into flame along the ridge you can see in the picture (above). As the wind increased we could see great fireballs flying through the air, igniting the forest wherever they landed. Soon there were spot fires all over the mountain and it was decided that we should consider evacuating the village.

My wife and family packed up the family station wagon and were ready to depart. There was no official evacuation plan and while we were trying to figure out the best way to let everyone know we received a call that the forest was on fire behind the isolated house just north of Sunset Beach.

We drove down in the fire truck and on arrival realized there was no nearby water supply, so told the owner to get out quickly. We then headed back towards the village, when to our relief a few drops of rain started to fall. Within a few minutes it was raining torrentially and we realized that the village had narrowly avoided disaster.

Interestingly, these days if you climb up Unnecessary Mountain you will see that every old growth tree has a burn mark on its lower side. I have been told that the area was logged in the 1920’s and assume that slash burning took place, but haven’t found any records to verify this.

With the long dry summers we have been experiencing recently it certainly makes sense to be ready to leave in a hurry if the village is threatened again.

These memories from John Dudley were inspired by Emergency Preparedness Week.

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John thank you for your service as a volunteer firefighter at the that time here in Lions Bay and for sharing this experience of what occurred in that situation with things spreading out of control quickly.

After the June 6/23 fire at the cliff jumping area discussions at the next council meeting, by both the Emergency Program Coordinator and the mayor, took place regarding the fire's potential seriousness. Phil, the Emergency Program Coordinator mentioned the “candling from tree top to tree top…winds switched to blowing towards the Village…Royal Canadian Marine SAR in the area provided an additional 2 pumps and manned all 4or 5 pumps while LBFR handled the hoses on the fire". The mayor stated regarding the LB firefighters …

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Thank you John for the timely and sage advice

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