Crews respond to another human-caused fire in the Alberni Valley

Crews respond to another human-caused fire in the Alberni Valley

A fire near Port Alberni Wednesday morning was the latest in a string of human-caused fires.

Port Alberni firefighters found a 10 square meter fire after responding to multiple 911 calls near Roger Creek and the Port Alberni Highway.

The calls started shortly before 7 p.m.

Hank Bakken could see the smoke from his home when he got a call from a friend telling him to get ready to evacuate.

“What do I take? What do I need? [I had] a little bit of a panicky feeling,” said Bakken.

Though it was outside city limits the Port Alberni Fire Department started battling the fire until provincial firefighters from Errington arrived and took over until they put it out.

“There will be some investigation of this fire. I know Port Alberni within their jurisdiction they’ve had a number of suspicious fires as well and this one certainly also seems to be a suspicious fire,” said Gordon Robinson of the Coastal Fire Centre.

Port Alberni has seen well over a dozen wildfires this summer, most have been caught early. The last one was near another section of Roger Creek just a week ago.

“They continue to be all human-caused some of them are suspicious and we’ve handed those files over to the RCMP for further investigation,” said Chief Mike Owens of the Port Alberni Fire Department.

In July, 34-year-old Christofer Pedersen was arrested and charged with two counts of arson. He was released on bail one week ago and is under around-the-clock house arrest.

“It continues to be at an extreme fire danger rating here in the Alberni Valley so these fires continue to be extremely concerning and we’ve been lucky that we’ve been able to respond quickly and effectively,” said Owens.

The Coastal Fire Centre says people can’t let their guard down.

“I really want to stress how bad the danger is on the island still. I know some parts of the mainland have seen some rain even some little bits on the island but a little bit of rain isn’t going to rehydrate the forest floor,” said Robinson.

Officials say abiding by the campfire ban and quick reporting of fires remain key until substantial rains arrive.

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Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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