Smoke continued to affect the Comox Valley and the entire south coast of B.C. Monday after several forest fires broke out on the weekend.
The Tsulquate Creek fire that started Friday near Port Hardy experienced “minimal growth” Sunday, according to the BC Wildlife Service.
“The evacuation order has been downgraded to an alert,” Ellie Dupont at the Coastal Fire Centre said Monday.
A one-hectare spot fire from a burning ember that was within 400 metres of homes was contained Monday. The larger 16-hectare fire had been 20 per cent contained along the portion closest to the town.
“The crews are working to remove fuels from the fire line on the sides that are closest to the community — and there’s a lot of smoke,” Dupont said. “The helicopters, which there are four, will continue bucketing today. Fire behaviour has been decreased to Rank 1, which is smouldering ground.”
Another fire that broke out Saturday on Dog Mountain on Sproat Lake near Port Alberni continued to “burn aggressively” Sunday as it neared cabins. It covered about 35 hectares. Retardant dropped by air tankers and water dropped by helicopters slowed the blaze, but cabins at the lake were evacuated. One cabin was burning Monday morning.
“We heard overnight that it was lost,” Dupont said. “It had been empty for two to three years apparently.”
“They’re (firefighters) still having a hard time with the slope. It’s very steep so they have to be very careful that no one gets hurt, or other structures are lost.”
Both fires are suspected to be human caused.
The public is reminded to be diligent within back and front country areas. Human-caused fires can divert critical resources and crews needed to fight naturally-occurring wildfires.
Anyone found in violation of an open fire ban, including campfires, may be issued a ticket for up to $345. Anyone who causes a wildfire through arson or recklessness may be fined up to $1 million, spend up to three years in prison and be held accountable for associated firefighting costs.
For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, visit www.bcwildfire.ca.