Firefighters get wildfire under control in Port Alberni

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Firefighters now have a fire a wildfire that started in Port Alberni late Thursday afternoon under control.

Even though no buildings were damaged or threatened and no one was hurt, officials say it’s the time of year when we all need to be thoughtful and careful when we’re outdoors.

Provincial firefighters headed into the woods with chainsaws Friday as they, along with Port Alberni firefighters, worked to fully extinguish the wildfire.

The outlook was much better than what crews arrived to on Thursday afternoon after getting multiple calls to 9-1-1.

“Upon arriving at scene we realized the fire was growing in intensity and in size so we upgraded that to an all-call summoning, all of our off duty personnel as well,” said Mike Owens, Fire Chief of the Port Alberni Fire Department.

Soon after, someone reported another fire in Dry Creek Park. A number of firefighters went and put that one out, before returning to the bigger blaze.

Twenty-two firefighters from Port Alberni, Beaver Creek and the Coastal Fire Centre worked the fire that grew to a half a hectare in size in steep and challenging terrain.

“They worked hard to contain the fire and we were able to call that ‘being held’ by the end of daylight yesterday,” said Owens.

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A small crew stayed overnight along with some sprinklers to make sure the flames didn’t spread.

That worked carried into Friday and as of 2 p.m. the fire department says the fire was under control.

The cause has not been determined.

“There’s certainly evidence that people are unhoused and living in the Roger Creek area in proximity to this fire. Again, yet to be determined if that was the cause and if so whether that would’ve been accidental or malicious,” said Owens.

For nearby resident and former city councillor Ron Paulson, the fire is hitting too close to home.

“People have to be responsible. If you have to live rough be kind,” he said. “Respect your surroundings. Respect the people that live in the neighbourhood, and you respect me I’ll respect you, but there’s no excuse for this, none whatsoever, and it makes me angry.”

Paulson says there have been wildfires in the park in the past.

Crews are still keeping an eye on hot spots and it’s expected the fire will be fully out by the end of the weekend

The fire chief says while there has been a lot of recent rain, with a string of hot days this week conditions in the forests can change quickly. He said fortunately Port Alberni residents have been quick to call in fires if they see smoke.

Kendall Hanson

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