Firefighters from Port Alberni Fire Department are mopping up after a fire in the bush at Dry Creek, between North Park Drive and Argyle Way, on Sept. 11, 2020. (PAFD PHOTO)

Embankment catches fire beside Dry Creek in Port Alberni

Fire danger rating ‘extreme’ in Alberni Valley, says PAFD fire chief

Port Alberni firefighters have extinguished a fire that was discovered burning in Dry Creek gully between Argyle Way and North Park Drive late this afternoon.

Crews were on scene shortly before 5 p.m., where flames could be seen shooting from a large area on the ground and down a cliff beside the creek.

“It had potential,” Port Alberni Fire Department Chief Mike Owens said. The department had posted on social media earlier in the day that the fire danger is extreme in the Alberni Valley after a string of record-breaking hot days and very little rain.

“It was complicated to spot because it’s generally smoky in the air from the U.S. fires. We were lucky the trail is reasonably well travelled and someone spotted it and called it in,” Owens said.

The fire, which Owens said is human-caused, was burning beside the creek then up a 35-foot embankment. At the top of the embankment a heavily forested area approximately 20 feet by 50 feet was on fire.

“The fire had started down low and shot up the face of this cliff. If you’re not on the trail or in the creek, it’s pretty challenging terrain. It was a challenge to get water there.

“It did consume a fair amount of space in there.”

The PAFD duty crew attended, and the night shift was called in early to help put out the blaze. Flames crept up a few trees before firefighters were able to contain the fire.

Crews had the fire under control and mopped up hot spots shortly after 7:30 p.m.

Port Alberni and other communities on Vancouver Island experienced record-breaking heat this week. The Island is also under a smoky sky bulletin due to wildfires burning south of the border in Washington State, Oregon and California.

READ: Smoky skies expected through weekend in B.C. as 29 large wildfires burn across U.S. border

The Ministry of Forest, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development announced Sept. 10 that drought conditions are affecting streams and rivers across the southern portion of B.C. Eastern Vancouver Island is at Drought Level 3 (very dry).

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