Mount Hayes wildfire status unchanged, evacuation alerts remain in place

WatchThe status of a wildfire burning on a mountain in the Cowichan Valley remains unchanged, officials say. Kendall Hanson has more.

The status of a wildfire burning on a mountain in the Cowichan Valley remains unchanged, officials say.

In an update issued Monday afternoon, the Cowichan Valley Regional District said that the wildfire on Mount Hayes, located near Ladysmith, is still classified as “being held” thanks to improving weather conditions over the past few days.

As a result, there are no changes to the ongoing evacuation alerts in place for Takala Road, Ivey Road and David Road and the FortisBC facility and Bush Creek Fish Hatchery. The State of Local Emergency issued by the Cowichan Valley Regional District also remains in effect.

The 73-hectare wildfire, which sparked last week, was downgraded from “out of control” to “being held” on Sunday after BC Wildfire Service crews successfully established a control line around the perimeter.

“However, the interior of the fire continues to burn and Ladysmith and area residents may experience poor air quality in the coming days as a result of the smoke,” the CVRD said in its update.

The British Columbia Wildfire Service is expected to commit a helicopter, 56 firefighters, 12 pieces of heavy equipment and two officers to battle the blaze on Mount Hayes over the coming days.

For those who live nearby and remain under an evacuation alert, it’s welcome news.

“[Feeling] a lot better. Today they’re pulling down the sprinklers and that that they have at the bottom of the hill which is a positive sign,” said Steve Shaw, who lives on Takala Road.

Shaw says the firefighters have done a phenomenal job.

“I got to give them kudos. It’s not something that I’d be able to do and they’re out there for long hours in that heat and dirt and smoke,” said Shaw.

At the Nanaimo Airport where dozens of flights have been cancelled or delayed since the fire broke out Thursday, operations have returned to normal.

Transport Canada has reduced the restricted airspace around the fire from five kilometres Friday.

“It’s now two and a half kilometres and the fire’s approximately three kilometres away so we’re able to operate the airport fully,” said Dave Devana, Nanaimo Airport Commission’s CEO and President.

Nanaimo Airport saw 1,300 passengers Sunday, the most since the pandemic began. Devana says it’s a sign more people are willing to travel and it’s unrelated to cancellations related to the fire.

Coastal Fire says even though this fire is held people shouldn’t let their guard down.

“A lot of reports of campfires out there this weekend and I can not stress enough how dangerous and how ill-advised that is right now with conditions the way they are,” said Gordon Robinson of the Coastal Fire Centre.

Investigators today are trying to determine how the fire started though with a lack of lightning it’s believed to be human-caused.

According to the BCWS wildfire dashboard, more than 246 active wildfires are burning province-wide at the moment, including one other on Vancouver Island — a 32-hectare wildfire in Copper Canyon near Duncan that is classified as under control.

The cause of the Copper Canyon fire is also unknown at this time.


Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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