August 1st structure fire

This morning we were paged to a structure fire at 8:26 am. Gabriola firefighters responded quickly, and almost all of our members were on scene in a matter of minutes.

The fire was on Samson and Dunshire. It began in a plastic garbage can, which contained items that were left-over from a house-painting project. Those items began to smoulder, then finally burst into flame. (This sort of spontaneous combustion is common when oil-and other some other chemical soaked rags are involved.) The garbage can was against a shed, which then caught fire, and quickly spread the flames to nearby trees.

The fire then spread to the neighbouring house, which was saved, but sustained significant damage from flames climbing the wall and entering the attic space.

All of this was determined by watching the security cam footage from the scene.

This is a good time to remind community members about these key points:

  1. Oil-soaked rags, or rags left over from painting projects should not go into a garbage can. They should be stored in a metal container, away from anything flamable, until they can be safely disposed of. Piles of chipped trees also have been known to spontaneously combust, and should be spread out 6″ deep, and or the piles monitored.
  2. If you smell smoke in your neighbourhood, go and investigate. Try to find the source of the smoke. If you can’t find the fire but you smell smoke (in summer when fires are banned on the island) call 911 so that we can come and help find the fire.
  3. This was a classic example of a tree spreading fire to another structure, and is the reason we ask people to ‘Fire Smart’ their properties to create defensible spaces.

It’s better to call us than to wonder just where that smoke smell is coming from. Today some people reported smelling smoke way before the smouldering items burst into flame. If they had traced the source of the smoke, or called us, it is likely this fire could have been extinguished before it spread beyond the garbage can.

Here are a couple of photos from this fire. Click on either one if you’d like to see a larger version.


  1. Joan Baird says:

    A great big thank you to all the Gabriola firefighters for taking such good care of us and our island! You are the best and much appreciated! 👏

  2. Kevan H says:

    Response time was amazing. We were a few properties away and all your efforts contributed to the best outcome possible given the situation. Very much appreciated and great work!

    • FireWeb says:

      Thanks, Kevan! We worked hard to contain the fire, and we are relieved that we managed to keep it from spreading any further than it did.

  3. Michelle says:

    Thank you for your response and actions in that scenario, and also for the reminders in this follow-up article…much appreciated!

  4. Richard Goode says:

    We are sooo fortunate to have two fire departments on the island we love so much. It is incredible how professional our firefighters are and to think they volunteer their time to protect and serve us. Thank you for using your skills in making our island safer. Great job everyone.

    • FireWeb says:

      Thanks, Richard!

      (We actually have just one fire department on Gabriola, although we have two fire halls.)