Port Moody firefighters are back at White Pine Beach in təmtəmíxʷtən/Belcarra Regional Park this morning ensuring a third wildfire in the Tri-Cities in the past week can’t smoulder up again.
The fire was spotted Thursday evening next to a staircase off the main path behind the concession by a film crew working in the area, Port Moody Fire Rescue (PMFG) deputy chief Kirk Heaven told the Tri-City News. They happened to have a water tanker trunk on hand and immediately started hosing it down.
“It was a great find by them,” said Heaven, adding the fire was likely human-caused.
PMFR responded with 24 firefighters and five apparatus, along with two officials from Metro Vancouver. Heaven said crews immediately put up a fire guard around the burning area that measured about 20 metres by 30 metres. Firefighters then got to work using chainsaws to cut hemlock and other trees in the heavily wooded area so they could get to the root of the fire.
Heaven said the fire ranked as a two on the BC Wildfire Services six-step scale. That’s considered a “low-vigour surface fire” with visible open flames but a slow rate of spread.
But, he added, with the current dry conditions the fire had the potential to quickly evolve into something much more significant.
“It’s so dry up there,” he said. “This is so rare for October.”
Heaven said once the initial fire was knocked down, crews cut up timber in the surrounding area and pulled up dry material like dead branches, leaves and pine needles to ensure there were no hidden hotspots. Then sprinklers were set up for another three hours to saturate the area with water pumped from nearby Sasamat Lake.
Heaven said with no appreciable rain in the long-range weather forecast, and a long weekend nigh, firefighters are on high alert.
“It is tinder dry,” he said. “People need to be careful with their cigarettes or anything that could start a fire.”
This marks the third suspected human-caused wildfire in the Tri-Cities region since last Saturday (Oct. 1).
And, as a result of the incidents, fire danger ratings are temporarily increasing to "extreme" today (Oct. 7), although it could scale back to "high" on Saturday, according to PMFR's Jason Harper.
Meanwhile, the Minnekhada Regional Park wildfire — also reportedly human-caused — is now under control by fire crews, containing the blaze at 14 hectares in size after efforts to create a 50-foot "wet line" lasted 48 hours long.
An investigation in to the exact cause is set to take place once the flames are fully extinguished.
"Minnekhada Regional Park will remain closed over the long weekend as firefighting efforts are ongoing," said a statement from the Metro Vancouver Regional District (MVRD).
"Intermittent smoke may be visible from isolated pockets over the course of the operation."
As well, Coquitlam crews were able to contain a small wildfire on Burke Mountain early Thursday morning after it grew to 20 by 20 metres.
Around 8 a.m., local firefighters were called to a blaze near the Port Coquitlam and District Hunting and Fishing Club — located on a BC Hydro right-of-way.
No homes or nearby structures were in danger, the City of Coquitlam said, and no evacuation alerts were implemented.
Environment Canada is predicting temperatures to reach daily highs just above 20 C over the Thanksgiving Day long weekend across the Tri-Cities.
This includes mostly sunny skies with some haze and fog patches in the evening, along with a low of 10 C.
— with files from Mario Bartel