Wildfire sparked in Port Alberni ravine likely human caused, officials say


 The record breaking, extreme heat in the Alberni Valley has fire officials bracing for more fire activity to come after back to back fires sparked there Thursday and Friday. An indicator, say officials, of just how dry it is across Vancouver Island right now. Skye Ryan reports. 

Firefighters scaled a steep ravine in Port Alberni Friday, struggling in the rough, nearly vertical terrain trying to stop the spread of a brush fire that sparked early that morning.

“When the crews got on scene the flames were into the tops of the trees and the fire was spreading quite quickly,” said Chief Kelly Gilday of the Port Alberni Fire Department.

Crews from the Coastal Fire Centre were brought in to work alongside Port Alberni’s fire department to keep the damage down to the one-acre area that is surrounded by the wild land of Rogers Creek park behind the Alberni Multi Plex.
“Really extremely dry,” said Coastal Fire Information Officer Paula MacKay.

“Those grasses have dried right out and they’re crispy and the fire danger rating has gone up to almost extreme in most areas of the Island,” she said.
 Port Alberni, where temperatures have reached into the high 30’s all week, is reeling from back-to-back fires that sparked Thursday and Friday. There was one just out of town at Franklin River Road Thursday afternoon, then the bush fire at Roger’s Creek at 3 a.m. Friday.
“So we’re sitting on edge I guess just waiting and being very wary,” said Chief Gilday.
“Very concerned,” added MacKay. “We’re in a very extreme fire hazard and there is a very potential for sparking a fire this weekend.”
The heat is expected to last right into next week, with no rain in the forecast, so officials are urging people to be so cautious.

“Any spark from an ATV or any kind of spark from a trailer can cause a fire and it’s just extremely high right now,” said Mackay.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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