As temperatures stay high and conditions stay dry, the Port Alberni Fire Department (PAFD) continues to respond to more outdoor fires than usual in the Alberni Valley.
On Friday afternoon (July 9), the PAFD responded to a small wildfire off Cherry Creek Road behind Pacific Rim Shopping Centre. The fire was extinguished the same afternoon.
Shortly after 11 p.m. on Saturday, July 10, Community Policing volunteers discovered a fire at Dry Creek Park while they were on a Crime Watch patrol.
Fire crews were dispatched and discovered a 200-square-foot fire burning in the blackberry bushes and treed area near the horseshoe pit, said PAFD Chief Mike Owens.
“RCMP—due to the intensity of the fire—had begun to advise nearby residents of the fire, just in case evacuation would be required,” said Owens. “Luckily, crews were able to get a handle on the fire relatively quickly.”
Within an hour, the fire had been extinguished. Owens said the fire appeared to be “human-caused” but crews have not been able to determine yet if it was set accidentally or intentionally.
Although the Dry Creek fire was the largest outdoor fire that the department responded to last weekend, Port Alberni fire crews also extinguished a smoldering flower bed at Victoria Quay and an abandoned campfire at Roger Creek Park on Sunday, July 11. On Sunday morning, smoke was reported in the Roger Creek area behind West Coast General Hospital, but because this was outside of city limits BC Wildfire responded instead of PAFD.
PAFD also responded to a shed on fire in an alley behind Glenside Road near Ian Avenue and Cox Road in the early hours of Sunday morning. No residents were displaced by this fire, and a crew will be conducting an investigation to determine the cause.
The number of outdoor fires has decreased compared to last Sunday (July 4), when Port Alberni fire crews responded to six fires in a few hours.
“But that’s certainly more [fires] than we’d like to see,” said Owens.
The provincial fire danger is still listed as extreme. Due to low rainfall this spring and a wave of extreme heat in late June, a large part of Vancouver Island is now at drought Level 4 and residents are being asked to “aggressively” conserve water. Drought is measured on a 0-5 scale, with 5 being the most severe.
Campfires are banned across the province, and anyone found in violation of this ban can be fined $1,150 or face up to one year in jail and be ordered to pay firefighting costs if the fire sparks a wildfire.