Pictured is the remnants of a parachute from a marine distress flare that exploded close to the ground on the evening of Dec. 12 and was found in a lower branch of a garry oak tree next to a home in Maple Bay. (Submitted photo)

Pictured is the remnants of a parachute from a marine distress flare that exploded close to the ground on the evening of Dec. 12 and was found in a lower branch of a garry oak tree next to a home in Maple Bay. (Submitted photo)

Neighbours horrified as dangerous marine flares shot off near homes in Maple Bay

Illegal to use distress flares except in emergencies

A couple in Maple Bay are raising the alarm after marine distress flares were fired off on the night of Dec. 12 near their home.

Sally Meecham and Paul Bland live close to the water in Maple Bay on Arbutus Avenue.

Although the popular annual Christmas afloat event was cancelled this year due to the pandemic, about six boats decked out in lights held their own marine parade in the bay anyway that night, and one or more people near Arbutus Avenue fired off two marine distress flares in an apparent ill-suited and dangerous effort to help celebrate the small parade of boats.

Bland said the first flare was launched from somewhere behind his home and then exploded before it came close to landing on one of the Christmas float boats.

RELATED STORY: COWICHAN VALLEY REGIONAL DISTRICT CONSIDERS OPTIONS FOR FIREWORKS AFTER RECEIVING COMPLAINTS

“The second flare was not launched in the air but rather shot more directly and it exploded right in front of us,” he said.

“A neighbour and us thought there was an earthquake or power poles exploding. The entire interior of the house level we were on glowed a bright orange, and the doors and the house shook. It goes without saying that had we been sitting outside on our chairs watching the floats, or had the parachute flare exploded on a rooftop, the destruction would have been disastrous.”

Bland said, with Christmas and New Year’s Eve just days away, the couple is concerned about more marine distress flares being fired off in the area.

“We anticipate it may be a very long time before we are able to enjoy other public celebrations without hiding and being prepared to flee or douse flames,” he said.

“Our neighbours in the bay are also very angry and concerned and they too are worried for their safety. In a year that has been anything but normal, the last thing any of us wants is someone’s home or the bay being set ablaze.”

RELATED STORY: HOLIDAY LIGHTS TWINKLE ON WATER OF MAPLE BAY FOR SAIL PAST

Distress flares, which burn at the melting point of steel and contain toxic chemicals, are very dangerous and can cause severe injuries.

They are designed for marine distress and are deliberately difficult to extinguish.

A statement from the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment said the police had not been made aware of this incident, and encouraged anyone involved to reach out to report safety concerns.

The statement said the Canada Shipping Act Collisions Regulations notes that it is an offence to use a distress signal for a purpose other than to indicate distress, or to use a signal that may be confused with a distress signal.

Each of these offences can come with a $173 fine with a surcharge.

“Transport Canada has created a guide for marine safety that states that flares should always be shot into the wind and away from the vessel at a 45-degree angle so it will drift back over your position,” the statement said.

“Never point a flare at another person, and always treat flares as explosive devices. North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP encourages anyone using marine vessels or around the water to ensure that they have the necessary and required safety equipment and that others with them are also acting responsibly.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Community

Just Posted

B.C. Centre for Disease Control data showing new cases by local health area for the week of May 2-8. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island COVID-19 local case counts the lowest they’ve been all year

On some areas of Island, more than 60 per cent of adults have received a vaccine dose

A nurse gets a swab ready to perform a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Island’s daily COVID-19 case count drops below 10 for just the second time in 2021

Province reports 8 new COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island Wednesday

Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner Andrea Inness walks beside an enormous western red cedar stump in a BCTS-issued cutblock in the Nahmint Valley. (PHOTO COURTESY TJ WATT)
B.C. forestry watchdog finds lack of compliance in Nahmint logging

Forest Practices Board says old growth and biodiversity near Port Alberni are at risk

Port Alberni Fire Dept. deputy chief Wes Patterson, right, and another firefighter monitor the front of a garage at Second Avenue and Argyle Street that burned on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Fire starts in empty garage on Argyle Street in Port Alberni

Garage was attached to empty multi-storey commercial building

A painting by Port Alberni artist Robert Hall. Hall uses a technique called Abstract Impressionism. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
ARTS AROUND: Port Alberni artist showcases abstract impressionism

Robert Hall’s paintings on display at Rollin Art Centre until May 29

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

Municipal governments around B.C. have emergency authority to conduct meetings online, use mail voting and spend reserve funds on operation expenses. (Penticton Western News)
Online council meetings, mail-in voting option to be extended in B.C.

Proposed law makes municipal COVID-19 exceptions permanent

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
British Columbians aged 20+ can book for vaccine Saturday, those 18+ on Sunday

‘We are also actively working to to incorporate the ages 12 to 17 into our immunization program’

The AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine. (AP/Eranga Jayawardena)
2nd person in B.C. diagnosed with rare blood clotting after AstraZeneca vaccine

The man, in his 40s, is currently receiving care at a hospital in the Fraser Health region

RCMP outside the Nanaimo Ice Centre investigating a report of a suspicious person. The incident resulted in hold-and-secures at two nearby schools, but those emergency procedures have now been lifted. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Man walking around Nanaimo marsh with airsoft rifle concerning to police and nearby schools

Two schools went into hold-and-secure procedures Thursday, May 13

Canada’s demo Hornet soars over the Strait of Georgia near Comox. The F-18 demo team is returning to the Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Sgt. Robert Bottrill/DND
F-18 flight demo team returning to Vancouver Island for spring training

The team will be in the Comox Valley area from May 16 to 24

Saanich police and a coroner investigated a fatal crash in the 5200-block of West Saanich Road on Feb. 4, 2021. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Police determine speed, impairment not factors in fatal Greater Victoria crash

Driver who died veered across centre line into oncoming traffic for unknown reason, police say

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Bow-legged bear returns to Ladysmith, has an appointment with the vet

Brown Drive Park closed as conservation officers search for her after she returned from relocation

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read