‘It’s very hard on the community’: Forest fire burning ‘out of control’ near Gold River

'It's very hard on the community': Forest fire burning 'out of control' near Gold River

Lakes and mountains across the mid Island were shrouded in smoke Friday because of a large active wildfire near Gold River.
“You look around and it’s very smoky again today,” said Gold River Mayor Brad Unger. “It’s very hard on the community. You’ve got your seniors who have some health issues. You’re really concerned for them.”
The fire is just east of the village at the Heber River. It is 352 hectares big and was sparked by lightning on Sept. 6.

The Coastal Fire Centre is classifying it as “out of control” on its Wildfire Dashboard.

“It was a fire that was considered a Modified Response so it was very high up and very inaccessible so once it’s moved into an area where our people can deal with it and have access to the fire then they’ve gone in and are working largely along the base of this fire at the moment,” said Coastal Fire Centre Information Officer Marg Drysdale.

A crew is on the ground fighting the fire and one helicopter was bucketing water on it from above Friday.

Current conditions remain unusually dry across much of Vancouver Island for this time of year.

Fire danger ratings are high to extreme in some places but campfires are allowed.

The Coastal Fire Centre says given the current conditions, people need to be very careful if they are having a fire.

“It is half-a-metre by half-a-metre and it needs to be managed,” said Drysdale. “People have to monitor it and they have to have the means to put it out. If it escapes, the consequences for that can be a $100,000 to $1-million fine and a year in jail.”

Backyard burns and burning barrels remain prohibited.
In 2021, there were 209 fires in the Coastal Fire Centre when the season began earlier but ended abruptly when rains and cooler temperatures hit in early September. This year, after a late start to the fire season, there have been 224 fires so far.
Drysdale says in order for the fire season to end, there needs to be a multi-day rain event, which is not in the short-term forecast.
Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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