Rain helps fire crews

A wet and windy weekend kept the helicopters out of the sky above the Lizard Lake fire near Port Renfrew.

A wet and windy weekend kept the helicopters out of the sky above the Lizard Lake fire near Port Renfrew.

The blaze was 100 per cent contained as of Tuesday morning but was still listed as covering an estimated 402 hectares.

“We’re still working on it but certainly the fire danger has gone down so much that the fire behaviour is pretty low so that’s terrific,” Coastal Fire Centre fire information officer Donna MacPherson said Monday.

Resources have been reduced to 29 firefighters, compared to the more than 150 firefighters, six helicopters and 10 pieces of heavy equipment used at its peak.

“The wind and storm that went through, it hit that particular area fairly hard so the areas that our crews were working in have to be reassessed for danger trees and checked for hazards so that’s slowed them down a little bit,” MacPherson said. “They have to back up and have a look at where they were working and then work forward again but they are making really great progress.”

She said with the amount of fuel on the ground, even with the rain, it’s important for firefighters to get in there and cut it apart, open it up, and make sure the rain (or fire hoses) can get to it.

“If trees are burning in the middle or roots are burning underground, turning them over is the only way to make sure water gets to them, she said.

“Crews still have to do the physical work of opening things up.”

More rain in the forecast should help to keep the fire down quite a bit, she said.

The rain that fell over the weekend “wasn’t enough to put it out which is why we’re still working on it,” MacPherson said. “They’re still finding hot spots and working their way through it but they don’t have the assistance of being able to do aerial scans and we probably won’t get to that until Friday when the weather turns.”

The area restrictions were rescinded on Friday and Pacific Marine Road, the one that joins Mesachie Lake and Port Renfrew, was re-opened Aug. 25.

“We are asking people to keep out of the worksite, especially watch for any falling debris because that area is taking the weather pretty hard from this storm that’s gone through.”

Visit www.drivebc.ca for road closure information and www.sitesandtrails.ca for recreation site closures.

The fire was reported around midnight Aug. 11. The following day it was estimated to be about five hectares in size but within 24 hours it had grown to 150 hectares. It grew another 100 hectares over the weekend before peaking at close to 400 hectares.

Believed to be human caused, a BC Wildfire investigation specialist has been working to identify the origin and cause of the fire.

The BC Wildfire Service relies on citizens to alert them to any column of smoke they witness.

Calls can be made on mobile phones to *5555 or by calling 1-800-663-5555 on any phone.