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Parts of Thetis Lake still closed after wildfire extinguished over weekend

Seymour Hill remains closed, but the main beach has reopened to the public
West Shore fire crews battle a wildfire in Thetis Lake Regional Park. (Courtesy View Royal Fire Rescue)

A wildfire at Thetis Lake Regional Park has been extinguished but parts of the park remain closed.

View Royal Fire Chief Paul Hurst said the fire was fully contained and under control by Saturday evening, with firefighters returning for patrols on Sunday and Monday. The fire is now fully extinguished and the park’s main beach has reopened, although Seymour Hill remained closed Monday.

The fire was first discovered at the top of Seymour Hill around 1 a.m. Aug. 27, but crews were unable to reach it until 6:30 a.m. as it would not have been safe to approach it at night. Crews from View Royal, Colwood, Langford and the province battled the blaze.

Hurst said the cause looks to be a campfire left over from either a homeless camp or some hikers. Crews were able to keep the burned area to around one hectare, and Hurst added the cooler weather recently and high humidity helped prevent the fire from spreading.

“I wouldn’t say we’re figuratively out of the woods yet. We’re going to need weeks and weeks of substantial rain to reduce our risk at this point. So obviously still lots of the forest is extremely dry, and there’s still lots of fuel load – it doesn’t take much for the fire to get going.”

READ MORE: VIDEO: Drone captures Fort Rodd Hill fire from Colwood skies

Hurst added the public’s response was helpful, with no interactions between crews and residents while they were dealing with the fire. He also noted there were no drones flying overhead, after one had been spotted flying over the wildfire that broke out at Fort Rodd Hill on Aug. 24.

Operators can face a maximum fine of $25,000 and 18 months in jail if they operate a drone or unmanned aerial vehicle around any size of wildfire, according to the B.C. Wildfire Service. Flight restrictions are imposed around any wildfire that breaks out in the province, the prohibited zones encompassing a 9.3-kilometre radius around the fire and 3,000 feet above ground level.

Hurst said the big danger is drones flying around where B.C. Wildfire helicopters are also flying as they survey the site, which is what happened at Fort Rodd Hill.

“He had it up high enough that we didn’t hear it or see it but it’s literally at the same altitude as a helicopter that’s flying around plotting the fire and doing an assessment. You can imagine – I mean, I don’t have to explain what the ramifications would be. It would be just absolutely horrendous.”

A wildfire helicopter didn’t respond to the Thetis Lake fire as crews had easy access to water from the lake and the fire was contained quickly.

READ MORE: UPDATE: Wildfire closes sections of Thetis Lake Regional Park

ALSO READ: UPDATE: Crews responding to fire in East Sooke


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