Beaufort Range fire at five hectares

Eric Plummer, August 8, 2018

A fire was discovered in the Beaufort Range mountains Tuesday, as seen from Williamson Park in Port Alberni. (Eric Plummer photo)

Port Alberni — 

Residents of the Alberni Valley awoke to smoky skies this morning, as crews battled another forest fire discovered on Tuesday.

Located directly north of Port Alberni, the Beaufort Range fire grew to five hectares by Wednesday morning, as two helicopters carrying buckets hovered overhead. Suppression efforts came 11 personnel from the BC Wildfire Service, plus members of the Cherry Creek Fire Department.

“It’s within our jurisdiction; it’s not within their jurisdiction, so they’re an assisting agency with us today,” said Donna MacPherson, a fire information officer with the BC Wildfire Service, of the Cherry Creek firefighters.

This is the third fire that broke out in the mid-Vancouver Island area in recent days, preceded by the Turtle Lake fire that emerged west of Port Alberni on Monday, Aug. 6 and the Nanaimo Lakes blaze south of the city that was discovered Sunday. By Wednesday morning the fire by Turtle Lake was no longer listed as active by the provincial wildfire service, but at 160 hectares in size, Nanaimo Lakes continues to draw resources. All three fires are believed to be caused by people.

“We really need people to smarten up when they’re out there in the forest,” said MacPherson. “These fires are challenging crews as they arrive on site to keep them very small.”

Hot and dry conditions have brought most of Vancouver Island to an “extreme” fire danger rating, according to the BC Wildfire Service. The Alberni Valley’s plus-30-Celsius temperatures are expected to drop by Friday, but a thunderstorm could accompany some rain in the forecast, said MacPherson.

“We’re going to get more wind, we may get lightning, and precipitation is going to be spotty, so we don’t need to go into the weekend with these kinds of fires taking resources away from the ones that we need to respond to at that time,” she said.