69 fires now burning on northern Vancouver Island

69 fires now burning on northern Vancouver Island
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WATCH: The largest fire on Vancouver Island is the Pinder Creek Fire along the Zeballos Forest Service road at 260 hectares. A team from Ontario is now in charge of incident management for the north island.

There are now 69 wildfires burning north of Gold River on Vancouver Island. They were caused by lightning in a storm two weeks ago and many of them are still popping up or just being noticed after the smoky skies cleared.

“We’ve been able to discover more fires and we’ve been able to map those fires and get a closer eye on them,” said Fire Information Officer Shayne McCool.

The Gold Valley Main fire at Zeballos East is still one of the main fires of note due to its proximity to the village. It has continued to grow and is now at 168 hectares. On Thursday, the village extended their local state of emergency to Aug. 30. Six properties remain under an evacuation order due to falling debris.

“I think it’s a combination of us now being able to get a more accurate size on it due to the fact that some of the smoke has lifted and also due to the fact that again we did see some wind come through the area yesterday that did cause a little bit of growth as well,” said McCool about the size of the Gold Valley main wildfire.

Officials don’t have any containment numbers for the fire yet but it is growing uphill and away from the village.

McCool is from Ontario and part of a new incident management team that has taken over control of firefighting on the north island, to give the B.C. team much needed rest.

The team will be here for the next 14 to 19 days.

Firefighters in the field are on the same rotation but are being replaced by B.C. firefighters at this time.

“So when it gets busy like we’re seeing now typically you’ll see firefighters working those 14-day cycles, get some days of rest and depending on how many times they’ve done that they’ll get more days of rest and that will be determined through their protocols,” said McCool.

No major lightning is forecast for the weekend which is good news but no major rainfall is either.

People heading into the outdoors are urged to do so with extreme fire safety in mind.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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