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Out-of-control wildfire burning near Port Alberni

The fire is not far from Devil’s Den Lake, located between the city and Sproat Lake, and was reported about 6:45 p.m. Thursday
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Wildfire near Port Alberni. VIA B.C. WILDFIRE SERVICE

An out-of-control wildfire discovered Thursday night about two kilometres from Port Alberni is visible from the city but has so far been kept to under half a hectare in size.

The fire is not far from Devil’s Den Lake, located between the city and Sproat Lake, and was reported about 6:45 p.m.

Air tankers were brought in to drop fire retardant before an initial-attack crew arrived and stayed on scene until midnight, said Coastal Fire Centre information officer Nick Donnelly.

Five firefighters were assigned to the blaze Friday.

The cause of the fire has not been determined.

Port Alberni Fire Chief Mike Owens said he has offered his department’s assistance to the B.C. Wildfire Service if needed. “We’ve been in communication with the B.C. Wildfire Service,” he said. “But at this point they have it well in hand.”

Owens said he could see the flames at dusk on Thursday.

The closest community to the fire is the Tseshaht First Nation, he said.

Spring and summer drought conditions resulted in a spate of small brush fires in June in the Port Alberni area, including one in the vicinity of West Coast General Hospital that firefighters were able to tamp down quickly.

Owens reiterated a plea for people to be careful outdoors due to very dry conditions, which he called the driest he’s seen in his five years at the department, with the exception of the heat dome in 2021.

The weather forecast for Port Alberni calls for temperatures as high as 32 C over the next few days, with some cloud but no precipitation.

Also burning is a fire at Tugwell Creek, near Sooke, that is now listed as under control.

Eight firefighters and heavy equipment were working on the 1.85-hectare blaze Friday.

Elsewhere on Vancouver Island, four other fires are ongoing and are listed as under control. They include the Newcastle Creek fire near Sayward at 230 hectares, the Cameron Bluffs fire between Parksville and Port Alberni at 229 hectares, a 16.6-hectare in the Klanawa Valley near Nitinat and a 35-hectare fire near Gold River.

jbell@timescolonist.com