Brush fire breaks out west of Port Alberni

Fire forces partial closure of Highway 4 heading to Ucluelet and Tofino

Weekend traffic is halted near Taylor Arm Park as fire crews battle a blaze that broke out on the side of the road on Saturday, July 21. TONY SHUMUK PHOTO

Fire crews are still working on a brush fire that broke out approximately 20 kilometres west of Port Alberni, near Taylor Arm Park, late this afternoon. The fire is listed as one hectare in size.

“It was reported to us late this afternoon,” Coastal Fire Centre fire information officer Donna MacPherson said.

A bird dog aircraft flew over the site to assess the fire, and that was followed with an air tanker that dropped a load of retardant on the site, she said. “We call it a low vigour ground fire. It didn’t burn any trees but it burned brush on the ground.”

Highway 4 was closed for a period of time as skimmers—aerial firefighting aircraft that scooped water from nearby Sproat Lake—worked to douse the fire.

Three helicopters, four skimmers, an air tanker and 13 firefighters all responded to the fire, MacPherson said. “They worked pretty hard on the fire; it didn’t grow appreciably.”

Sproat Lake Volunteer Fire Department firefighters also responded to the fire and took care of traffic control.

Crews will stay at the scene until dusk checking the scene for hot spots, then will return in the morning to mop up. The fire won’t be considered “out” until it is cold—no hot spots remaining, MacPherson explained.

The fire broke out late Saturday afternoon (July 21) on the side of the road and quickly grew to one hectare, according to the Ministry of Forests’ BC wildfire map. The fire is believed to be caused by a human, but an exact cause has not been determined.

DriveBC reported shortly after 7 p.m. on Saturday that traffic on Highway 4 is single lane alternating, and cautions drivers to watch for emergency workers and to expect reduced visibility due to smoke.

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A photo posted by Leanne Gaudreault Moore on Facebook shows smoke billowing from a brush fire near Taylor Arm Park, approximately 20 kilometres west of Port Alberni. FACEBOOK PHOTO