‘It’s hard to believe it’s happening:’ Evacuees and rest of Zeballos watching closely as wildfire burns nearby

'It's hard to believe it's happening:' Evacuees and rest of Zeballos watching closely as wildfire burns nearby

WATCH: A state of emergency, evacuation alert and an evacuation order for six properties is still in effect for Zeballos due to the Gold Valley Main wildfire. Skye Ryan has the latest. 

Six properties in Zeballos are still under an evacuation order as the Gold Valley Main wildfire burns out of control in steep terrain above the village.

The order was issued on Saturday afternoon due to the risk of falling debris. Felix Michael and his family live in one of the properties that were evacuated.

“It’s hard to believe it’s happening,” Michael said. “I don’t even know how safe it is to live there. My house is still there but I think the mountainside is severely compromised.”

His family of five is now in an RV across town as sprinklers are set to full blast on his roof.”

“These trees are crashing down pretty much 24 hours a day,” Michael said while describing the situation at his evacuated house.

The fire was discovered just over a week ago after lightning hit the tinder-dry mountainside above the tiny village. Now at 90 hectares, the wildfire is burning in a rocky area that is too dangerous for firefighters to access. However, the Coastal Fire Centre said helicopters and crews on the ground are helping.

“Because this fire isn’t going to be able to have ground crews on it, we’re going to need Mother Nature to help us out with some rain to put this fire out,” Dean Neville, Coastal Fire Centre incident commander, said.

The firefighters on the ground are from Coastal Fire, Zeballos, Woss, Port McNeill and Campbell River.

“The feeling is one of much relief and confidence that our professionals are here,” Mayor Donn Cox said.

Volunteers are showing their appreciation to the firefighters with food and comfort, including 10-year-old Alyssa Cox. She was on her bike handing out the lunches made by the volunteers on Sunday.

Alyssa and the residents on the east side of Zeballos are still under an evacuation alert, which was issued on Thursday.

“It was panicky and nervous and you always had your stuff packed up,” Alyssa said.

Elsewhere on northern Vancouver Island, the Pinder Creek wildfire continues to burn close to the Zeballos Forest Service Road, the only road in and out of the village. Donna MacPherson, fire information officer with the Coastal Fire Centre, said the fire is now up to 200 hectares but it is burning away from the road. The road is still being closed periodically as trees are felled to help control the fire.

The Pinder Creek fire is 10 per cent contained. Fifteen firefighters, three helicopters and two heavy equipment are working on that blaze.

And near Port Alice, the 10-hectare Larry Lake wildfire is burning in steep slopes about Highway 30, the only road in and out of the community. The fire is 10 per cent contained but could threaten utility poles that carry power and telephone lines to Port Alice. Crews are removing trees that may fall down the slope and onto the power lines. The road may be temporarily closed as crews complete their work. There are 15 firefighters, two helicopters and two heavy equipment working on the Larry Lake wildfire.

Alexa HuffmanAlexa Huffman

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