Dog Mountain update: ‘contained doesn’t mean fire is out’

Alberni Valley residents can expect to see smoke and flames at Dog Mountain as the fire burns out: Coastal Fire Centre.

Flame and smoke are still visible from the Dog Mountain fire southwest of Port Alberni

Flame and smoke are still visible from the Dog Mountain fire southwest of Port Alberni

The Dog Mountain forest fire southwest of Port Alberni is 100 per cent contained, but that doesn’t mean the fire is out, says fire information officer Marg Drysdale from the Coastal Fire Centre.

Smoke and flames will still be visible on parts of Dog Mountain as conditions continue to dry out over the weekend and into next week.

“We’ve got containment on that fire. Most people are assuming that containment means out. That’s not the case,” Drysdale said.

BC Wildfire branch crews are allowing forest fuel within the perimeter to burn itself out, and the perimeter is being patrolled. “ I know they’re monitoring that fire very carefully, largely because of the concern in the community.”

Critics in the community, however, questioned why crews don’t just douse the fire with water.

“Can you tell me why we have to suffer day after day of smoke and flames around the shoreline of Dog Mountain when so little effort would be required to snuff these dozen or two hot spots out,” Bob Cole wrote in a letter to Coastal Fire Centre manager Ken Taekema and copied to the Alberni Valley News.

Fire information officer Donna MacPherson said there is no need to put water on the fire. “It is doing what we expect it to do. Right now the fire is burning within the containment line we’ve established. Allowing the fire to consume the fuel strengthens the guard even more,” she said.

Even with the hot, dry weather, the work that crews did last week to reduce the fuel load means it doesn’t have the heat to jump the lake.

“This is a policy that is throughout the province,” MacPherson explained. The fire at Puntzi Lake is being treated the same way, as are many of the other fires that have been contained.

“Most of the large fires are. I think the problem is people in the Alberni Valley aren’t used to looking at wildfires where people in other parts of the province [like the Okanagan Valley and Cariboo Region] are used to dealing with them a bit more.

“Every time we send a crew somewhere there is a risk to them. So we look at whether the risk is worth the output.

Martin Mars deployed to Nelson for day

The Martin Mars waterbomber was in West Kootenay on Saturday (July 18, 2015) assisting ground crews on a small fire north of Akokli Creek, east of Boswell. The bomber helped establish a wet line on the seven-hectare fire east of Highway 3A. The fire was discovered on July 11.

Fire information officer Karlie Shaughnessy said the BC Wildfire branch brought in the Martin Mars for one day because “it was the right tool for the job.”

The fire is on steep terrain, making it difficult to get water tenders and heavy equipment to the fire line.

The waterbomber returned to Port Alberni at 7 p.m. Saturday.

There were still 159 wildfires burning in B.C. as of Friday afternoon (July 17). The BC Wildfire Branch has 2,200 people working on the fires across the province, including 150 from other countries, provincial fire information officer Navi Saini said. Australian firefighters arrived late last week and have been deployed within the Coastal Fire Centre.

To report a wildfire or open burning violation, call 1-800-663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone.

editor@albernivalleynews.com

— With files from the Nelson Star

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