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Out-of-control fire near Woss grows to 25 hectares

Remote nature of blaze prompts modified response from Coastal Fire Centre
The fire in question, located just east of Tahsis on this map, has grown to 25 hectares since Aug. 22. Photo courtesy BC Wildfire Dashboard

An out-of-control wildfire is burning on Vancouver Island between Tahsis, Woss and Gold River.

The fire, which is on a mountainside about 10 km east of Vernon Lake, has spread to an estimated size of 25 hectares. The Coastal Fire Centre has deployed a modified response to the fire.

“What that means is… it’s based on a mix of factors, based on crew safety considerations, distance from communities and values, and accessibility of the terrain,” said Fire Information Assistant Nadia Linning. “It uses a combination of suppression techniques. The idea is to monitor and contain it within a pre-determined perimeter.

“This is the type of response that we’d use when there aren’t values at immediate risk. Once we’ve decided that we’re going to do a modified response, we do a fire analysis, which identifies different parameters. If and when those are reached and passed, it’ll prompt a reassessment of the fire and we would reassess how we’re actioning that.”

As of Monday, there are two helicopters monitoring the fire as well as two smaller fires nearby. Linning said that the decision to go to a modified response was because of the remote nature of the fire, adding that it would be difficult to get a crew on site.

“The accessibility is part of the reason we’re doing a modified response,” she said. “It’s a fairly big factor. Oftentimes we’ll use that on fires that are in really steep terrain or just are difficult to get crew members on the ground.”

The cause of the fire is undetermined. The Coastal Fire Centre received a report on Saturday (Aug. 20). At the time, a storm with dry lightning passed over Vancouver Island, sparking a few fires its wake.

“We did have a couple of lightning events at the end of last week, so we had quite a few new starts as a result of those,” Linning said. “Lightning-caused fires, just due to the nature of them, they can smoulder for sometimes days before we receive reports of them. Some of these are likely hold-over fires from that lightning event. We do anticipate that we’ll see a few more over the next few days, just because conditions are going to warm up again as of (Tuesday).”

Though the fire is relatively remote, Linning said that the Coastal Fire Centre does get most of its reports quickly after fires are started, due to people either working or recreating throughout the Island.

“We’re able to get crews on a lot of these before they’re able to spread further. We’re able to keep them on spot fires in most situations,” she said. “That’s one of the benefits for us: the quick reports we’re able to get from the public.”

As of Monday, 18 fires were located on Vancouver Island or in mainland inlets nearby.