The Dog Mountain fire is set to grow over the course of today (July 7), said B.C. Coastal Fire Centre fire information officer Marg Drysdale. The fire is at 125 hectares as of 2 p.m. on July 7.
“They are intending to do a staged ignition,” said Drysdale. “They’re going to burn off in small stages. They’ll light an area, wait 20 minutes, light an area, wait 20 minutes.”
The reasoning behind the purposeful burns is that the area is going to burn anyway.
“This area is going to burn regardless,” Drysdale said. “If we do it as a controlled burn then they have a better handle on where the fire goes and what it does.”
Doing a controlled burn allows the ignition specialist and the fire crews to keep the intensity of the burn down to a moderate level.
“Instead of having some really hot weather come in and it completely taking off, they can actually control where it’s going and what it’s doing to a certain extent. We want the fire to burn at the same intensity as the fire is currently burning at. It’s a moderate intensity ground fire right now which means that if you’re standing on flat ground, it would probably be to your shoulder.”
Control lines have been set up to limit the extent of today’s controlled burn.
A control line is a constructed or natural fire barrier. It’s a treated fire perimetre,” said Drysdale. “They’re drawing their lines in the sand and they’re working within those lines.”
“When they do go ahead and do a burn-off, they know where it’s going.”
The province currently has 33 firefighters on scene for the Dog Mountain fire and the 20-person Port Alberni-based Thunderbirds crew arrived on scene last night. Structural protection units hae also been deployed to ensure that no more cabins are destroyed. One uninhabited cabin has already been lost.
A wildfire smoke advisory is still in affect for Port Alberni and much of the south and east of Vancouver Island. The Ministry of Environment statement cautions individuals to avoid strenuous outdoor activities and contact a health care provider if they experience coughing, difficulty breathing or chest pains. Infants, those with underlying medical conditions and the elderly are most at risk.
The Alberni-Clayoquot Regional district has set up a level one emergency operations centre and declared a local state of emergency and an evacuation order for the Dog Mountain area. Sproat Lake residents are encouraged to keep a bag packed with 72 hours of essentials.
Catching additional fires early is key to keeping them from getting out of control. Call 1-800-663-5555 (*55555 on your cell phone) to report a forest fire and 911 to report a structure fire. Lake residents should keep their properties clear of dry, flammable material.