Smoke and flames can be seen from a fire in north Cherry Creek, at the top of the Beaufort Mountain Range, at sunrise on Aug. 8, 2018. BC Wildfire Service has personnel at the site. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

UPDATE: Wildfire near Port Alberni doubles in size

Beaufort Range fire third caused by humans on Vancouver Island since Aug. 5, sixth burning on the Island

A wildfire in the Beaufort Mountain Range north of Port Alberni has doubled in size overnight.

Eleven BC Wildfire Service firefighters and at least two helicopters were battling a five-hectare wildfire in the mountains on the morning of Wednesday, Aug. 8. By Thursday morning, the fire had grown from five hectares to 10.

Extra resources were deployed from all local fire departments (Cherry Creek, Sproat Lake, Beaver Creek and Port Alberni). Shortly after 9 a.m. on Thursday, there were 15 firefighters and command personnel on site, with more expected (including air support). A release from the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD) says that the fire is “very difficult” and wind is a problem.

“The increase in size is due to fire growth,” fire information officer Natasha Broznitsky said Thursday morning. “Because the fire is out of control and given the fuel type in the area and dry conditions, growth is not unusual.”

Broznitsky said BCWS has 20 firefighters, three helicopters and three pieces of heavy equipment working on the fire as of Thursday.

Heavy equipment ranges from water tenders to bulldozers or Caterpillars—“any sort of heavy machinery crews use to construct fire lines,” she said.

The fire, now listed on the BC Wildfire Map as “Beaufort Range”, broke out in private forest land sometime late Tuesday night, Aug. 7.

Social media posts began appearing around midnight Tuesday as flames could be seen from as far away as south Port Alberni, burning along the power lines.

Port Alberni RCMP members began knocking on doors of homes at the end of Cherry Creek Road at Horne Lake Road somewhere around 2 a.m. to advise people about the wildfire. No evacuation order was given, according to witnesses. The fire did not threaten any homes, although it was initially burning along the ridge in the direction of homes.

Members of the Cherry Creek Volunteer Fire Department initially responded to the fire, and a helicopter flew over the scene to assess the scene for the BC Wildfire Service.

This is the second fire in as many nights that volunteer firefighters from the Alberni Valley have responded to, and Fire Information Officer Donna MacPherson from the Coastal Fire Centre said people need to pay attention to the extremely dry conditions.

“This is the third suspected human caused fire since Sunday on Vancouver Island,” she said. The Nanaimo Lakes fire, which has grown to 160 hectares, is the third.

“We’re going into lightning at the end of the week so we need people to smarten up,” MacPherson said. “Anybody who does anything in the forest needs to be careful right now.”

Island Timberlands announced on Wednesday that all forest lands are closed due to wildfire risk. Today, the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District announced that the Log Train Trail, Alberni Inlet Trail and Mount Arrowsmith are also closed.

BC Wildfire Service reported on Tuesday that the Turtle Lake Road fire east of Great Central Lake, which broke out early Tuesday morning, was considered ‘held’ and shouldn’t spread under the weather conditions at the time. Broznitsky said Thursday the fire is considered under control, but it is not yet out.

The fire site was increased to 4 ha on the BC Wildfire map because BCWS personnel had walked the perimeter and recorded a more accurate measurement—the fire did not grow. Fire information officers said the Turtle Lake fire was deemed to be human caused, but was still under investigation.

As of late Thursday morning (Aug. 9) there are six wildfires burning on Vancouver Island: Beaufort Range, Turtle Lake, a small one near Thames Creek in Bowser, Maple Mountain in Cowichan (8 hectares), Nanaimo Lakes (179 ha), and a small fire at Circo Creek near Port Renfrew.

READ: Crews make good progress on wildfire near Great Central Lake

editor@albernivalleynews.com

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Smoke and flames can be seen from a fire in north Cherry Creek, at the top of the Beaufort Mountain Range, at sunrise on Aug. 8, 2018. BC Wildfire Service has personnel at the site. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

A wildfire burning in the Beaufort Mountain Range can be seen from south Port Alberni, early Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

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