Wildfire in Greater Victoria region likely human-caused, say fire crews

Wildfire in Greater Victoria region likely human-caused, say fire crews
WatchA two-hectare wildfire burning near Victoria since Tuesday evening is finally under control thanks to a coordinated effort from both land and air.

Investigators say the wildfire that broke out in the hills above View Royal on Tuesday was likely human caused.

At around 5 p.m. Tuesday night, smoke was seen billowing out from Mill Hill Regional Park blanketing the region.

Firefighting crews from Langford, Colwood, View Royal, and Esquimalt were called in to battle the blaze, in difficult terrain.

“I think on the View Royal side we were looking at over 2000 feet of hose, on the Langford side we’re talking 3300 feet of hose. That’s a lot of hose,” said Langford Fire Chief Chris Aubrey.

“And you’re also going up about 80 metres in height, which also creates challenges in pumping that high up that grade. All those things were factors in preventing us from actually getting water on the fire.”

Crews say it took an hour just to climb in and lay the hose, making the air attack essential.

“We use the air attack in two ways: the helicopters were dropping water on the fire and the prevents it from moving quickly, and the retardant helps paint a line on the ground to slow down the fire to make sure it doesn’t leave the area,” said Donna MacPherson with the Coastal Fire Centre, who provided the tanker and a helicopter.

The successful air attack meant that overnight, the fire didn’t grow past its two-hectare size.

As of Wednesday, while still active, crews say the fire is fully contained. And as crews head into the mop-up phase, they’re already anticipating the investigation ahead.

“There wasn’t any real weather conditions that would really be the cause of the fire,” said Aubrey.

“So right now we’re treating this as a human-caused fire.”

The Coastal Fire Centre in B.C. will see a fire ban start Friday at noon. And local fire crews say wildfires like this remind us, we’re still very much fire season.

“With COVID people have been confined to their local communities, so people are using their parks and trails. Which is great but we just want to make sure people are taking precautions in there and you’re not doing anything that’s going to potentially spark a fire,” said Aubrey.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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