Investigators say a brush fire that broke out in a wooded area behind a Port Alberni college campus is considered suspicious.
Port Alberni Fire was called to the brush fire found burning in steep terrain at Roger Creek Park, behind North Island College, at 7:30 a.m. Thursday.
There was no risk to nearby structures at any time, officials said, but smoke was visible across the city.
“We initially got multiple 911 reports for this fire. We were trying to fight it in very steep terrain which was very difficult for our crews,” said Fire Chief Mike Owens. “It looks like the fire was actaully set at the top of the ravine and then it crept downward. It was spreading laterally as well when we arrived.”
The fire was considered under control at around 11:30 a.m.
The BC Wildfire Service had dispatched a crew of four firefighters to the same fire, intially beleiving it was outside city limits.
A helicopter dropped ten buckets of water on the fire to help bring it under control.
Port Alberni firefighters were called for a second unrelated brush fire at the same, also in Roger Creek Park about 1.5 km away.
Roger Creek Park encompasses a vast area of wildnerness through a deep ravine in the central part of Port Alberni.
RCMP say both fires are considered suspicious and are now investigating how it sparked and whether it was set intentionally.
There have been six fires in Roger Creek Park in the last two weeks and 12 in total across the area. Officials tells CHEK News that in most cases there was no indication is was started by campfire or homeless camp.
“The fire in this case appears to have been deliberately set although the circumstances around the fire, whether it was set for nefarious purposes or for some other purposes are unknown at this time,” said Port Alberni RCMP Constable Richard Johns, referring specifically to the second fire Thursday which happened along an old rail line near Roger Street and 6th Ave.
The fires comes amid a months-long dry spell for Vancouver Island that has resulted in a Level 4 drought warning.
Warmer temperatures and dry conditions are expected to continue through the weekend.
Fire conditions in Port Alberni are currently rated as “extreme.”
The fire in Rogers Creek Park is now out. @portalbernifire and a @BCGovFireInfo crew and chopper brought it under control. PA Fire responded to a 2nd brush fire call at the same time as this one. RCMP now investigating. @CHEK_News #bcwildfires #bcdrought pic.twitter.com/R3AHi1nhog
— Dean Stoltz (@deanstoltzchek) October 13, 2022
PAFD is on the scene of a fire in Roger Creek Park burning in steep terrain behind North Island College. No structures are threatened at this time. Smoke is highly visible in the area. #portalberni #BCWildfire pic.twitter.com/i1vociqGKU
— Port Alberni Fire (@portalbernifire) October 13, 2022