‘Essential ecological process’: Strathcona Park wildfires merge into large blaze; no plan to fight it: officials

'Essential ecological process': Strathcona Park wildfires merge into large blaze; no plan to fight it: officials

Lightning-sparked wildfires in Strathcona Park have merged into one large blaze, and officials say the current plan is to monitor it but let it burn naturally.

Smoky skies are now covering parts of Vancouver Island due to a growing fire in Strathcona Provincial Park.

The Mount Con Reid wildfire, which was discovered on Aug. 6, and the Wolf River wildfire, which was discovered on Aug. 14, have now grown into one another.

Both were started by lighting, and are in difficult, steep terrain in Strathcona Provincial Park. The fires combined are estimated to be 1,577 hectares.

The BC Wildfire Service says it’s constantly observing and analyzing the fire but currently, there are no plans to fight it because it’s in the park, it was started naturally by lightning and it’s not threatening people or property right now.

“The Wildfire Service recognizes fire as an essential ecological process supporting biodiversity and ecosystem resiliency,” says Kimberly Kelly, fire information officer with the Coastal Fire Centre.

“It’s been determined that natural fires which do not threaten safety or infrastructure should be allowed to burn as part of the natural process of the park until it’s either extinguished by rain or it begins to threaten values.”

READ PREVIOUS: Six wildfires being monitored in Strathcona, Schoen Lake provincial parks

Strathcona Park Lodge is the closest place, about 15 km northeast of the fire. It’s smoky at the lodge but the fire has been spreading in the other direction.

A huge plume of smoke that rose from the fire Friday evening did get everyone’s attention though.

“I was leaving on Friday afternoon around 5 o’clock and it began to come up and it billowed later on and you could see as the wind was moving at different speeds it would build up and blow out a bit and boil over,” Paul Chatterton, managing director of the lodge said.

The people at Strathcona Park Lodge say that particular valley oddly enough seems to get lots of lightning caused fires and they’re not overly concerned about this one.

They have been fielding lots of calls from incoming guests to see if it’s still OK.

Meanwhile the wildfire service reminds everyone how dry it is right now and that any human caused fires would put a terrible strain on resources.

-With files from CHEK’s Dean Stoltz


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