Fire destroys cabin along Sooke Road; 20 to 30 spot fires in brush

It took 25 firefighters from five departments about three hours to contain a brush fire along Sooke Road on Wednesday.

At times, the fires reached as far as 300 metres into the woods, along an estimated two-kilometre stretch near Kangaroo Road, said Metchosin Fire Chief Stephanie Dunlop.

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The B.C. Wildfire Service estimated the size of the fire at 1.5 acres.

“There were 20 to 30 spot fires when I arrived,” Dunlop said Wednesday night.

The fire was reported about 3:30 p.m. The Metchosin, Sooke, Langford, Otter Point and East Sooke fire departments responded, assisted by the B.C. Wildfire Service, B.C. Ambulance, B.C. Hydro and the Mainroad Group, which is responsible for road maintenance.

Dunlop said she does not know what caused the fires. “This is not done by one cigarette,” she said.

A large cedar-roofed house in the 4400 block of Sooke Road, near Kangaroo Road, was saved, but a small inhabited cabin was destroyed.

Dunlop said there were no injuries and no animals are known to have died, although two cats ran away and have yet to be recovered. The couple who occupies the large house have many animals, including an emu and goats, and saving them was a high priority, she said.

The fire happened just as Metchosin was about to send two of its firefighters to the Interior, where about 10 firefighters from the capital region are battling wildfires and protecting property near Williams Lake.

“Good thing we didn’t,” Mayor John Ranns said.

Map - Sooke Road fire, July 12, 2017

Sooke resident Daren McKinney passed by the fire before the road was closed. He said he saw three or four fires.

“I saw a bunch of smoke and thought someone was burning leaves, but when I rounded the corner [at Kangaroo Road], the side of the road was on fire,” McKinney said.

An 11-kilometre section of Sooke Road, also known as Highway 14, was closed for several hours between Gillespie and Happy Valley roads.

McKinney worried about his three dogs at home waiting to be fed while the road was closed but said: “It takes what it takes, as long as everybody’s safe.”

Dunlop spoke highly of the commitment by volunteers in co-operation with so many agencies in getting the job done, rather than being territorial in an emergency, saying it’s “wonderful” to see in action.

“The community really needs to appreciate this,” she said.

The Metchosin Fire Department has a paid chief and 38 volunteers, three of whom are employed in daytime public works. It specializes in so-called “interface fires” between wild land and developed properties, Ranns said.

“We’ve got a lot of specialized stuff, he said, explaining that acquisitions are based on trucks and equipment able to get to hard-to-access fires.

“We’re relieved any time that a fire can be stopped,” Ranns said. “In a rural community in summertime, it’s something you’re always aware of.”

kdedyna@timescolonist.com

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