Six members of the Comox Fire Department are lending their resources to help fight the growing forest fire on Dog Mountain, on the south end of Sproat Lake Provincial Park near Port Alberni.
Comox Fire Chief Gord Schreiner told The Record from the fire scene as of Monday, the crew will also help with their structural protection trailer.
The fire, which is believed to be human-caused, began on the weekend at a relatively small size – around 1.5 hectares – but has grown to 35 ha on a steep slope. RCMP evacuated cabins as the fire is within 60 meters. According to the BC Wildfire Service, air tankers dropped retardant and helicopters dropped water which has been effective in slowing the growth near the cabins.
Twenty-one firefighters along with three helicopters are working to contain the fire.
The BC Wildfire Service danger rating for the majority of Vancouver Island is rated at extreme, meaning dry forest fuels and the fire risk is very serious.
Cumberland Fire Chief Mike Williamson said the smoke hanging in the Comox Valley is impeding on their nightly patrols of the area.
“We do high point patrols, and with the smoke we can’t see if any fires are burning or columns of smoke. The fires are going to get a lot larger before you’d be able to see them.”
Williamson explained over the weekend only a few small incidents were reported, including a small fire near the Inland Island Highway, but drivers were quick to call it in and the fire was extinguished.
Many bike trails in the forest near the Village have been closed as a preventative measure.
While he said generally residents have been very good about keeping fire risks at bay, “smoking in the woods scares us more than anything,” he added.
“One of our highest risks is a forest fire, because we’re completely surrounded by forest. If we get the wrong winds, it’s very dangerous to Cumberland.”
Williamson noted if a fire does occur, he and his crew of 35 firefighters are prepared along with a forestry suppression trailer.
“If we do get a big fire that takes our services away, it’s a good thing we have mutual aid (agreement) to cover our residential area. We can get Courtenay to come out, but we also work with and get called to Oyster Bay and Fanny Bay.”