A wildfire burning for nearly a week on north Vancouver Island near Sayward is no longer considered out of control, according to a fire information officer.
Kimberly Kelly with the Coastal Fire Centre says around 3 p.m. Sunday, the fire was downgraded to “being held” after it was classified as “out of control” for several days.
“The wildfire is not likely to spread beyond predetermined boundaries under prevailing conditions,” Kelly told CHEK News in an interview.
The Newcastle Creek fire, about five kilometres west of Sayward, remains at 208 hectares in size and was first discovered on Monday, May 29.
By Tuesday, the fire sat at around 90 ha, and on Wednesday, it grew to 160 ha. It continued to spread, reaching 208 ha by Friday and keeping its out-of-control status despite suppression efforts.
According to Kelly, the fire hasn’t grown significantly over the past 48 hours, with 60 firefighters and crews in two helicopters still on scene.
The Village of Sayward is home to about 300 residents, and the fire caused some noticeable poor air quality for those living nearby, including Mayor Mark Baker.
“It’s unsettling, to say the least,” Barker said in an interview Friday while praising firefighters’ quick actions.
“These guys were on it, on it fast and had an evacuation plan in place as well…” he said.
The fire danger rating is “high” for most of the Island, so officials urge people to be vigilant.
“Forest fuels are very dry, and the fire risk is serious. New fires may start easily, burn vigorously, and challenge fire suppression efforts,” states a post on the B.C. government’s website.
The Newcastle Creek fire is believed to be human caused, and an investigation is currently underway. No evacuation alert was issued for Sayward residents.
Cameron Bluffs wildfire
On the Island, there is one other wildfire burning east of Port Alberni near Cameron Lake. The .5-ha fire, discovered around 11:50 p.m. Saturday, is considered out of control, and Kelly says officials suspect it was human caused.
Residents of the Coastal Fire Centre are encouraged to regularly check the BC Wildfire Service website for updates and download the BC Wildfire app from the Apple or Google Play stores.
There are 68 active wildfires across B.C., with the largest north of Fort St. John at more than 240 ha.