Extreme fire danger conditions develop on Vancouver Island amid heat wave

Extreme fire danger conditions develop on Vancouver Island amid heat wave
WatchAs continued heat bakes Vancouver Island, rescuers are warning people to be careful as extreme conditions are developing fast. Skye Ryan has the story.

Search and rescue crews in Nanaimo practiced a high-angle rescue off a cliff Sunday morning, knowing their skills could be needed at a moment’s notice as long weekend campers and hikers escaped to the wilderness.

“It could come at any time. At the river, Mount Benson is an area that we could be called to,” said Duane Young, chief of operations for Nanaimo Search & Rescue.

Their training comes after Comox Valley Search and Rescue completed three rescues on Saturday — first rushing to Strathcona Park for an injured hiker on Golden Hinde, then soon after to Seal Bay Park for a medical rescue of a man who’d fallen and suffered head injuries, then right back around to Strathcona Park for two lost hikers from Victoria and their injured dog, who were found by SAR teams a long way off their intended path.

“Our call volume has gone up every year consecutively,” said Young of Nanaimo Search & Rescue.

The threat of heat stroke also persisted as temperatures rose over 30 C again Sunday. So outreach teams handed out cold water and freezies to make people who are living in sweltering tents a little safer.

“Probably keeping me alive right now, because I’m the oldest one in the group,” said homeless Nanaimo resident, Shane Williams.

In addition, ‘Extreme Fire Hazard’ signs went up in many parks, as conditions dried quickly. The fire danger rating rising to 5 in pockets of the South Island, Beaver Creek near Port Alberni, and Nanaimo parks.

“It looks really dry and just one spark will set it off,” said Nanaimo resident Marianne Auger.

Auger’s home backs onto Nanaimo’s Bowen Park. She is worried because there has been several fires started there, earlier this summer.

“Being so dry, all it will take is one spark, and that’s it. This whole beautiful park on our side is gone,” said Auger. “Everybody just be aware.”

Fortunately, Mother Nature will offer some relief, with temperatures forecast to begin cooling in the days to come, and even the chance of rain is expected by mid-week.

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Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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