An evacuation alert for one property on Mount Prevost Road has turned into an evacuation order, due to a wildfire that grew overnight and is now listed as out of control by the BC Wildfire Service as of Saturday morning, Aug. 7.
The Holyoak Creek fire burning north of Mount Prevost and west of Little Mount Sicker outside of Chemainus grew to 32 hectares by Friday night.
The Cowichan Valley Regional District has declared a local state of emergency.
The wildfire poses a threat to people and property within Electoral Area E, including: Trans Canada Highway 1, Highway 18, the western boundary of Electoral Area E and the northern boundary of the Municipality of North Cowichan.
Any residents under an evacuation order should register online with Emergency Support Services (https://ess.gov.bc.ca) to report that they have safely left the area; shut off all gas and electrical appliances other than fridges and freezers; close all windows and doors, close but not lock gates; take critical items such as ID, medications, wallet, keys and pets; and evacuate the area with all family members and any neighbours in need of transportation.
The wildfire emergency, signed by CVRD chair Aaron Stone and North Cowichan Acting Mayor Rosalie Sawrie, requires prompt coordination of action or special regulation of persons or property to protect the health, safety or welfare of people or to limit damage to property.
The fire was sparked near midnight on Thursday, Aug. 5 and has been determined to be human caused. High winds throughout the day Friday, Aug. 6 whipped up the fire.
“This can be a real wind tunnel up here,” said Bob Morris, an 18-year resident of Mount Sicker Road who was keeping a close eye on the fire from that side.
There have been no alerts issued for properties on the Mount Sicker Road side, but residents were keeping close watch on any sudden fire advancement.
“It’s close to home and it’s dry,” said Tree Mosicki.
“It was really windy up there last night (Thursday),” added Morris. “Keeping an eye on it, yeah.”
Just one day earlier a small wildfire was spotted at the Chemainus River Provincial Park, also human caused, but it was brought under control quickly and only reached a maximum of 0.30 hectares.
Residents didn’t have any time to breathe easier with the threat of that fire being extinguished when the second one in the vicinity developed and became much more of a threat.
Crews arrived on the scene to discover a vigorous surface fire powered by high winds. Those high winds forced crews to back off from the fire area to ensure their safety, but the morning brought calm winds and cloud coverage.
The clouds stuck around all day, but the winds picked up again and the fire began to spread. A threat of rain later in the day only produced a moderate amount of precipitation and not enough to make a significant difference in reducing the size or limiting the spread.
A helicopter utilizing water from nearby Holyoak Lake at the back of Mount Brenton worked all afternoon and into the early evening on containment.
Smoke from the fire made its way toward Chemainus and north to as far as parts of Ladysmith in the early stages. No official air quality advisories have been issued.
Citizens are urged to use extreme caution or to stay out of the back country all together during this time. It’s proving to be the most challenging wildfire season in B.C. history following a heat dome in June and tinder dry conditions that have followed ever since, with temperatures frequently surpassing 30 degrees Celsius.