A few fires have sparked near Campbell River in the last few days, ranging from difficult to reach backcountry fires to human-caused conflagrations near the city.
Closest to Campbell River is a fire roughly three kilometres away from an inhabited area at the north end of the city. Gordon Robinson, an information officer with the Coastal Fire Centre, said that the fire was in an old cut block and had grown to 0.6 hectares by Friday afternoon. On site are a few abandoned buildings, and the Campbell River Fire Department is providing assistance to extinguish those.
“It’s suspected at this point to be human caused, given the nature of small fires and not having lightning right there,” Robinson said. “It can’t really be confirmed yet.”
Though there is no immediate risk to inhabited structures, Robinson said the crew would remain on scene for some time to ensure it does not spread. The BC Wildfire Service has nine fire fighters on scene, as well as two helicopters. One crew of Campbell River fire fighters and two trucks were also sent for the initial attack, which included establishing a hose line to contain the fire.
“Given the size… it looks like they’ll probably be at it for a little while,” Robinson said. “It’s not one of these spot fires that they can knock down in an afternoon. There’s a bit more there.”
Dry conditions through August have brought on a number of fires in the area, including notably a 40 hectare fire on the slopes of Golden Hinde in Strathcona Provincial Park.
“This season, most things on the Island have been pretty small for sure. (The Golden Hinde fire is) the biggest one we’ve had on the Island this year,” Robinson said.
“Largely, that’s a factor of just where it’s burning. It’s in an area that’s really difficult to access, you can’t really put people on the ground around that fire safely, just given how steep it is there. It is being monitored right now, they’ve established a set of check points around it and if it grows beyond those it’ll receive some action, but it’s not being suppressed right now.”
That fire is under a “Modified Response,” which Robinson can mean a few different things. In that case it means it is being monitored for further growth. In the case of the Nimpkish River fire further to the north, it has a different meaning.
“In that case three sides of the fire are on workable ground, so it is being fought on those sides. It’s just the top side that is burning up into ground that is too steep,” Robinson said. “It’s sort of a catcher’s mitt around it. The one side, they’re just having to monitor because it’s not really threatening anything. That’s also considered modified response.”
The Nimpkish River fire near Woss has not grown since it was previously reported earlier in the week.
Despite cooler weather this weekend, Robinson says that “fire season is certainly not over.”
“People need to be following the campfire and open burning prohibition. Just in general, given how hot and dry it’s been this August we just urge people to be careful even when they’re doing things that are not prohibited, like using equipment and things like that. Just keep a close eye on anything that might potentially start a fire.
“Campbell River is in an extreme fire danger rating. (Fires) start more easily and spread more quickly,” he said. “The fuel is drier, and when the humidity is low and the heat is up you get those conditions that can lead to rapid spread.”