A wildfire burning out of control on Mount Hayes near Ladysmith has more than tripled in size overnight, according to officials.
The wildfire, which was reported shortly before 1 p.m. Thursday, was initially reported to be an estimated 20 hectares in size.
But as of Friday morning it had grown to 70 hectares and was still considered out of control, the Coastal Fire Centre said.
Helicopters have been bucketing water on the #MountHayes fire west of #Nanaimo airport since 6:40 this morning. Residents on Takala road say they’re feeling relieved the fire has moved away from them. #Ladysmith @CHEK_News pic.twitter.com/mdHgGE9pp5
— Kendall Hanson (@Kendall_Hanson) August 20, 2021
“The overnight growth occurred downslope so the fire continues to burn away from structures as it grows,” a fire centre spokesperson said.
Ground crews are battling the wildfire with support from helicopters and heavy equipment. In total there are 30 personnel, two helicopters, two water tenders, and two pieces of heavy equipment with more resources on the way .
The Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) has declared a State of Local Emergency due to the wildfire, currently burning west of Ladysmith.
The CVRD says it applies to Electoral Area ‘H’ west of the Trans Canada Highway, and the area north of Tyee Creek in Electoral Area ‘G’.
The Coastal Fire Centre (CFC) says the wildfire has grown to an estimated 20 hectares in size since the fire was reported shortly before 1 p.m. Thursday afternoon.
An Evacuation Order has been issued for a single industrial property, owned by FortisBC, at 3591 Ninattii Road, which the CFC says was within two kilometres of the wildfire.
Despite the order for the Liquified Natural Gas facility, a company spokesperson says they are allowed to maintain essential personnel on-site. The fire is currently moving away from its operations. He says the company has multiple contingency plans and they aren’t emptying any tanks at this time.
“The fire will be monitored overnight with shifting weather conditions. A public restriction to the area has been established, limiting access to forestry roads,” a CVRD media release said late Thursday night.
“The CVRD Regional Emergency Operations Centre remains in contact with municipal fire response teams, the Town of Ladysmith and the Stz’uminus First Nation for situational awareness.”
The fire centre says the fire was driven by windy conditions.
Nanaimo Airport has cancelled its arrivals and departures until 5:30 Friday afternoon.
Earlier Thursday afternoon, people helped evacuate Takala Trails Ranch west of Nanaimo airport, moving 20 horses on the advice of fire officials.