South Vancouver Island wildfire now categorized as ‘under control’: BC Wildfire Service

South Vancouver Island wildfire now categorized as 'under control': BC Wildfire Service

A wildfire on South Vancouver Island near Shirley is now back to being categorized as ‘under control’.

The fire in Muir Creek, discovered on July 16, was under control earlier in the week but hot spots found outside the original perimeter caused the fire to spread, according to BC Wildfire Service (BCWS).

The fire is now one hectare in size, which is approximately the size of a soccer field, and was classified as ‘out of control’ Thursday. Fire crews were able to bring the blaze to ‘being held’ status on Friday and the fire is now under control.

Eight firefighters, one helicopter and two tenders are still on the scene, according to Coastal Fire Centre information assistant Bryan Zandberg. Zandberg says crews are in the ‘patrolling stage’ and looking for any hot spots that could cause a flare-up. He said two hot spots were found and extinguished Friday morning.

A fire classified as ‘being held’ means there is a low risk the fire could get larger outside of containment areas, according to Zandberg, whereas a fire classified as ‘under-control’ has been ensured it won’t spread.

Fire Information Officer with the Coastal Fire Centre, Dorthe Jakobsen, says the current conditions on Vancouver Island contributed to the growth of the fire.

“It’s very dry out there and very bad for fire behaviour,” said Jakobsen.

Crews will be at the scene monitoring the situation for the rest of the day. The Muir Creek fire is the only wildfire on Vancouver Island according to the BCWS Wildfire Dashboard.

Conditions on Vancouver Island are very dry, with many parts of the east island in an extreme fire hazard warning.

While there haven’t been any major fires to speak of, there have been many small fires in municipalities, such as Cumberland on Friday.

The weather conditions looking into the future are not favourable for any reprieve, according to BCWS.

“And again, no rain in sight. We’re obviously in a very critical period,” said Zandberg. “Now’s not the time to be flicking cigarettes or cannabis or whathaveyou.”

BCWS says there are 258 wildfires currently burning in the province. That’s down from 275 fires reported in its last update Friday, and down from about 300 earlier in the week.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth welcomed 100 firefighters from Mexico today to help fight the flames.

“For now, we continue to face difficult fire behaviour and conditions throughout the central and southern interior,” said Farnworth in a press conference Saturday. “Similar, challenging weather is forecast for the foreseeable future.”

There are 57 evacuation orders in place, down one from Friday afternoon, affecting nearly 5,000 properties.

Another nearly 16,500 properties, more than 1,000 fewer than the previous day, were on evacuation alert, meaning residents have been told to be ready to leave on short notice.

There are 3,320 firefighters and other personnel working to fight the blazes, including 94 from out of province.

Crews from fire departments on Vancouver Island have also been sent to aid with the wildfires.

With files from the Canadian Press

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Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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