Helicopter drops water on the Read Island fire on Saturday. Photo by Stuart Clark/Eagle Eye Adventures

UPDATE: Crews continue to battle Read Island wildfire

Fire burning in dense forest and mountainous terrain

Nineteen firefighters joined the battle against the Read Island wildfire on Monday and boosted the personnel and equipment on the scene to 53 firefighters and five helicopters.

The 27 ha. lightning-caused fire northeast of Campbell River is proving difficult to contain because of a heavy tree canopy and mountainous terrain. Skimmer aircraft were used to fight the fire on Friday and Saturday but after slowing the fire down it was decided that the heavy tree canopy was preventing enough water getting to the fire which was spreading along the ground. The fire, according to a Strathcona Emergency Program report, is a ground fire “burning rank one to two, which is basically smoking ground with a bit of open flame from knee to hip height.”

“Because of that heavy canopy, the water wasn’t dropping down through the canopy all that well,” Fire Information Officer Donna MacPherson said.

Fire crews were able to employ a hose from a water source a kilometre away from the fire. Water is pumped from the source to bladders closer to the fire that look like “giant kiddie pools” and then that water is used to attack the fire.

Besides the canopy, the terrain is proving a challenge as well, located on a mountain on the east side of Read Island which has around 80 permanent residents.

“There’s places on the fire that people can’t get into because of the steep terrain,” MacPherson said.

As of Monday afternoon, the fire was 20 per cent contained.

The fire was reported to have reached 34 ha. on Saturday but a reassessment of the situation on Sunday determined that it was actually 27 ha., MacPherson said.

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Helicopter drops water on the Read Island fire on Saturday. Photo by Stuart Clark/Eagle Eye Adventures

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