The Alberni Valley experienced two bush fires this week, both of which were expected to be human caused.
The larger fire of the two happened on Friday, Aug. 4 in the Roger Creek gully behind the Alberni Valley Multiplex.
The Port Alberni Fire Department was called to the scene around 3:15 a.m. to a fire approximately 20 X 40 feet, according to Port Alberni deputy fire chief Wes Patterson.
“[Fire] did spread to the bottom of the gully and at this point investigation hasn’t determined the cause but [crews] have been working on it,” Patterson said.
“I would almost certainly think it’s human caused.”
Using the parking lot behind the multiplex as a “fire break”, Patterson said Port Alberni fire crews, along with members from the BC Coastal Fire Centre, were able to contain the bush fire on either side until daylight hit when they could move in and see what needed to be done.
As of 12:30 p.m. on Friday, fire crews were still working on getting the fire completely extinguished.
“It gets into the roots of the trees and the brush and so it’s sometimes not a simple matter, and it’s working on very steep ground as well. It certainly wasn’t an easy fire,” Patterson said.
One member of the Port Alberni Fire Department was injured during the process, with what Patterson thinks is a sprained ankle.
Another bush fire happened on Thursday, Aug. 3 on Franklin River Road near Anderson Avenue at approximately 2:22 p.m.
According to an RCMP press release, the fire appears to be human caused and is suspicious in nature. Police and fire officials are investigating the cause.
“We really need people to pay attention when putting out cigarettes,” Patterson said. “I’m not saying that’s the cause of [the Roger Creek] fire or not but we see a lot of cigarette butts in the bush when we’re out there so it’s really important for people to make sure their cigarettes are extinguished.”
A smoking and motorized equipment ban is now in place for Port Alberni parks and trials.
“We’re getting to the point where during the day our relative humidity is dropping below 30 per cent and of course our temperatures are above that,” Patterson said. “When we do get a fire started, we have the potential for very rapid fire growth.”