Sayward forest fire now 208 hectares, still burning out of control

Sayward forest fire now 208 hectares, still burning out of control

The Newcastle Creek Fire is burning about 5.5 km away from Sayward and not causing any immediate concerns for the village or homes in the valley but it is still classified as out of control and continuing to grow.

Two helicopters and 60 firefighters were working on the fire Friday.

Some good news is that the smoke cleared in the village as the winds shifted away from Sayward after days of noticeable and uncomfortable poor air quality.

But the fire is still too close for comfort for Mayor Mark Baker.

“It’s unsettling to say the least,” he told CHEK News Friday. “We’re at the mercy of the wind so if the winds pick up dramatically and blows the fire in a different direction then we have a different issue, but I know that they’re holding the perimeter at this point but it’s still not contained or held, it’s still out of control.”

He praised the quick response by the BC Wildfire service on Monday, the 60 firefighters still battling the blaze in rough terrain as well as local emergency management officials.

“It’s been terrific,” Baker said. “These guys were on it, on it fast and had an evacuation plan in place as well so everything was done on Monday.”

“20 per cent of the fire is burning in extremely steep slopes so our crews are having to consider different tactics, different strategies to address that flank of the fire,” said Kimberly Kelly of the Coastal Fire Centre.

All the firefighters need a place to refuel before and after a gruelling day at the fire scene.

The Crossroads Restaurant & Pub has been providing three meals a day to the hungry crews.

“They come in tired and smoky, black faces, so yeah they’re pretty happy to have a good meal and then go home and shower and do it again the next day,” said Crossroads owner Laura Thiessen.

The Coastal Fire Centre says the Newcastle Creek Fire was human-caused but are still investigating specifics.

Kelly says conditions are very dry with a “High” fire danger rating covering most of the Island from Port Hardy to Victoria.

RELATED: Sayward wildfire remains at 160 hectares, suppression making ‘good progress’

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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