Air tankers, helicopters and smaller planes called Skimmers dropped dozens of loads of water and chemical retardant on a wildfire near Sayward Tuesday.
The two-hectare Browning Creek Fire was first discovered Monday afternoon on a mountainside above Ryans Road and Cottonwood Road in the Sayward Valley.
Residents in about 12 homes just below the fire have been keeping a close eye on it.
“Oh, it’s really scary,” said Ryans Road resident Valerie Rajher. “Wondering where to go, what to do. Do we stay, do we go?”
Ann Vansnick lives closest to the flames, about half a kilometre away. She found out about the fire Monday afternoon when she started getting calls at work.
“I came home and there was the retardant jets going over and water bombers and helicopters. They’ve been going steady, so hopefully, they can get it out,” Vansnick said.
As of 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, the fire was listed as two hectares in size and out of control, much smaller than the 230 hectare fire on the north side of the Valley discovered May 29 and classified as being held.
That one is five kilometres from homes, and the latest one is closer, so the Sayward Fire Department was preparing Monday to save the 12 homes closest to the wildfire if the direction changes.
“Right now, we’re pre-positioning water bladders in two locations, and then we’re going to put house protection units in place and lay hoses just in the event the fire spreads,” said firefighter John Hanson.
There was a steady flow of onlookers Tuesday along Sayward Road as people watched the aerial firefighting.
“I was just like, ‘Here we go again.’ It’s just so dry here that it’s scary,” said Tessa Wyrozub.
The Coastal Fire Centre says the latest fire, like most others so far this year, is human caused.
“It’s just so, so dry,” said Tanya Gee, who lives near the fire. “It could be so many different things. Could be just a spark from one of the quads, could have been a cigarette, could have been chainsaws. I still hear people running, which is not a very good idea.”
Rajher added that “it’s frustrating that people could be so careless so close to our homes.”
Stiff east winds Tuesday helped to keep the fire away from the nearby homes, but officials with the Coastal Fire Centre do expect upslope growth of the fire as the main priority is protecting the nearby homes.
As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, no evacuation alerts or structures were threatened.