UPDATE 8 p.m.: Osborne Bay Road has reopened between Herd Road and Crofton, and residents who had left their homes for firefighting reasons have been allowed to return home, but a 30-minute evacuation alert remains in place.
Residents of Osborne Bay Road between Tatlo Road West and Herd Road have been advised by the RCMP to prepare for an evacuation order due to the forest fire on Maple Mountain.
“They have 30 minutes to evacuate if an order is given,” Cst. Pam Bolton explained. “There has not been an order given. If an order is given, we will go down and make direct contact with residents.”
Police have been going door-to-door on Osborne Bay Road advising residents that they will have half an hour to evacuate if that is deemed necessary.
Seven fire halls including Maple Bay, Crofton, Chemainus, Duncan, Sahtlam, North Cowichan’s South End hall and Cowichan Bay as well as the BC Wildfire Service have been called out battle the fire on Maple Mountain, just off Osborne Bay Road. Ladysmith crews are standing by at the Chemainus fire hall while a crew from Mill Bay is stationed at the Duncan hall.
Initial reports from the scene were that there were spot fires and heavy smoke showing. Three helicopters have been brought in from the Coastal Fire Centre to help from the air, as well as three firefighters who are on the ground. The fire is about a hectare in size at this time.
Maple Mountain is in the North Cowichan Municipal Forest Reserve, and the municipality also brought in water trucks and a backhoe as well as firefighting equipment to deal with the flames. Trails in the area are closed.
“The fire is located approximately 1km east of the Municipal Forest Reserve parking lot on Osborne Bay Road,”North Cowichan spokesperson Natasha Horsman said. “Multiple fire departments and the BC Wildfire Service are responding. The public is asked to avoid the mountain and closed signs are being installed at Maple Mountain trailheads. Large-scale evacuation [is] not required at this time.”
New information from the Municipality is available at www.northcowichan.ca/FireEvent
For alerts from North Cowichan, sign up for e-alerts at www.northcowichan.ca/eAlert
Osborne Bay Road has been closed between Herd Road and Chilco Road, so traffic should look for an alternate route. Transit route #6 is taking an alternate route due to the road closure. The bus will not be using the stops along Herd or Osborne Bay Roads according to BC Transit, but stops on Joan Avenue in Crofton will still be used for pick up and drop off.
Bits of ash were reportedly falling from the blaze as far away as Maple Bay.
Maple Mountain is a popular spot for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and more.
More as it becomes available.