Firefighters extinguish two suspicious wildfires in Port Alberni

Firefighters extinguish two suspicious wildfires in Port Alberni

Officials say two wildfires near Roger Creek in Port Alberni Sunday night were intentionally set.

For much of Monday, city and provincial firefighters were dousing hot spots on the edge of the creek behind the Alberni Athletic Hall after a wildfire, nearly a hectare in size, roared through Sunday.

It was a challenging fight because of its location and timing, along with the dry and windy conditions.

“Once we were able to locate it, establish a water supply, the lay was about 1,200 feet of hose from the fire truck into where we had to action the fire,” said Deputy Chief Travis Cross with the Port Alberni Fire Department.

Cross says they got the call around 9:30 p.m. Sunday, a while after another distinct fire was called in from the same area which crews extinguished before the second call came in.

The second blaze was much larger than the first.

“We were able to contain the fire. It was through the night, so very dark, dangerous terrain in areas, so we just stayed back and made sure that it didn’t escape its area of origin,” said Cross.

The fire department says it’s treating the fires as suspicious and has notified police.

“There was no lightning or anything like that, so it does appear to be human caused,” said Cross.

RCMP say they spoke to people at nearby encampments but were satisfied none were responsible for setting the fires.

Police are asking anyone with information about the fires to contact their office.

Those who live nearby are concerned.

“I had a lunch break at work and thought I’d come up and check out what was going on. Property down below, and it’s a bit nerve-wracking when we got fires and stuff happening in the bush,” said Randy Cyr, a neighbour.

“I worry about the house and how this is a jewel for walking. Everybody walks their dogs here, everyone just goes for walks here, and to lose it would just be horrible,”  said Roland Merry, another neighbour.

“You see what happened in Kelowna and you shake your head. That could easily happen here.”

The fire department says there are very dry conditions in the forest right now for this time of year. They’re reminding people to be careful, saying the fire danger rating remains high.

There have been a string of suspicious fires in the Alberni Valley near Roger Creek this summer.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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