firefighters hands

Fourth Day Mopping up the Read Island Fire

Cortes Radio News update – Though BC Wildfires is continuing to monitor the site, there is no longer an immediate threat and firefighters have been withdrawn from Strathcona Provincial Park. To the east there are still 21 people working within a 8 hectare burn site in the Discovery Islands. BC Wildfire spokesperson Donna MacPherson describes the fourth day mopping up the Read Island fire

“What they are doing is that slow meticulous work that they do to mop up a fire. They are moving through the land, looking for hot spots. They are feeling with their hands. They are looking for smoke. If they find anything they dig it up, break it apart, wet it down and rebury it again.”

She added, “We are finding that a fair number … [of fires] are burrowing underground because the ground itself is dry. There is not a lot of moisture down below.”

“It is fairly common to spend days mopping up after a larger fire, especially one that is close to people’s homes – as is the case at Read Island.

“A fire that could be smoking ground in the morning, if it gets a lot of heat on it and a bit of wind – it can pick up and start to show flame. So whether it is burning underground or burning with a flame, it is still a concern to us.”


The fires on Read Island and in Strathcona Provincial Park were both caused by humans and preventable.

“Of course there are dollar costs here – which can be significant because we had air tankers and helicopters on the fire and those can be pretty significant big ticket items – but also people need to think about the risk. There is obviously a risk to the wildfire fighters. There is a risk to the pilots as well. It is a pretty dangerous job because they come so close to the land. But [there is also a risk] to the public. To the people on Read Island who were very worried for a time about their homes and property.”


The situation was different in Strathcona Provincial Park. Though parts of the fire crews were on land too steep for crews to access, there are no homes in the area.

“So while we have that fire well contained and it is certainly not moving in any direction, we will probably allow that fire to not have the depth of mop up on it that we did on Read Island. That one is being checked. If any smoke has a tendency to travel to an area where we can get to, we would work on it again.”


“Right now your area is in a low fire danger rating, which is typical because of the precipitation that you did experience. We go into a moderate fire danger rating south of Campbell River and then we have a very high fire danger rating all the way from Parksville to Victoria.That just shows how little precipitation we actually did get.”

We need “three or four or five days in a row of fairly steady rain,” with moisture penetrating down to the tree roots, to alleviate the situation.

Photos are generic images supplied by the BC Wildfire Service