‘It’s a little bit frightening’: Island fire chief warns of dangerously dry conditions as crews fight brush fires

'It's a little bit frightening': Island fire chief warns of dangerously dry conditions as crews fight brush fires
WatchExtreme drought conditions are making these tense days for Vancouver Island firefighters. Already today two wildland fires with potential to spread fast, were attacked and extinguished and as Skye Ryan reports, they were both human caused.

A Comox Valley fire chief is warning dirt bikers and off-road trail users about dangerous and dry conditions after a brush fire early Friday morning.

Cumberland Fire Chief Mike Williamson said crews were called to a brush fire at around 4:15 a.m. on Friday near some Puntledge townhouses, located on Lake Trail Road in the Comox Valley.

At the time firefighters arrived, the blaze was approximately one acre in size, according to Williamson, and due to 30 km/hr wind conditions, fire and ash were being blown close to nearby power lines and houses.

Williamson said the crew of 16 firefighters and two fire trucks were able to knock the fire down in around four and a half hours.

“Being close to the road, it was fairly easy for the crew to stop it from crossing the road or get near the power lines,” said Williamson.

While the cause of the fire hasn’t yet been determined, Williamson believes it may have been caused by a hot muffler on a quad or dirt bike.

He says the area where the fire occurred is a popular area for dirt bikers and mountain bikers, and the fire appeared to have started on one of the trails. Residents reported hearing dirt bikers out around 10 or 11 p.m. on Thursday night, according to Williamson.

Williamson is warning those out in the woods on motorized vehicles to be cautious during these dry conditions.

“It doesn’t take much right now to start a fire, one little ember and away she goes,” said Williamson. “We’d like to caution people that are in the bush with motorbikes or quads, if you’re driving over high grass or anything like that, it’s a touchy situation.”

While he feels motorbikers and quads shouldn’t be on the trails at this time, he said the decision to keep them off the trails would be up to private landowners.

At the same time as the Comox Valley fire, an RV parked off a remote logging road near Ladysmith up in flames as well.

Both incidents were human-caused fires and authorities say they could have quickly gotten out of control with the dry conditions.

“It’s a little bit frightening when you get up there, it is really dry out there and conditions are really challenging,” said Ladysmith Fire Chief, Chris Geiger.

Despite the fire ban and drought-like conditions, Geiger says that he is still seeing people using burn pits and having campfires.

READ MORE: Vancouver Island destinations busy as Interior forest fires clear out tourists

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Justin WaddellJustin Waddell
Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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