Map of Gold River region with several dots representing wildfires to the east

Six wildfires spark in Strathcona Region on Sunday

Editor’s note: Smoke from these fires later spread eastward to Campbell River, Quadra and Cortes Islands, affecting air quality.

By Alexandra Mehl, Ha-Shilth-Sa, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

On Saturday and Sunday, lightning struck throughout the Strathcona region causing six small wildfires to spark near Wolf River, Mount Con Ried, and Trio Creek.

“The majority of them are in upper elevation so there wasn’t a lot of fuel,” said Nick Donnelly, an information officer with the Coastal Fire Center, adding that these wildfires have no risk to the public or critical infrastructure. “They are still listed as out of control, but they are just in a monitor only stage because we’re not expecting them to grow further.”

Trio Creek fire, north of Gold River, was the only wildfire that ignited on Sunday that demanded active suppression efforts and is not expected to grow. Donnelly said that suppression efforts were due to the location of the fire and the potential it had to expand.

Jacklah River wildfire, another fire located five kilometers south of Muchalat Inlet, is also near the town of Gold River. It sparked on July 20, growing to 35 hectares and is currently under control.

According to Donnelly, by this time last year there were a total of 14 wildfires that started on Vancouver Island. This year, to date, 91 have emerged.

Donnelly said that these numbers reflect the extreme drought conditions this year, and last year’s late start to summer which extended into October.

Additionally, there was not much precipitation relief over the winter, he said.

In early July, Vancouver Island jumped from a level four drought rating to a level five. This is the highest drought level, which means adverse impacts on communities and ecosystems are “almost certain”.

“People say there’s no climate change, but [there] is,” said Mowachaht/Muchalaht Hereditary Chief Jerry Jack Jr. “Look how brown the hills are and how dry they are.”

He said that these dry conditions make it easy for a fire to start whether it be lightning-caused or human-caused.

To help prevent wildfires, campfires and open fire bans continue to be prohibited across the province, apart from category one campfires in the Haida Gwaii Forest District.

B.C. Wildfire service said that they will continue to monitor the area for hold-over fires, which are wildfires that remain dormant for a few days before flaring up.

Top image credit: On Aug. 5 and 6 lightning struck throughout the Strathcona region, causing six small wildfires to spark near Wolf River, Mount Con Ried, and Trio Creek. – BC Wildfire Service map

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