Firefighters mop up wildfire near Bamberton; second blaze 90% contained

Two wildfires near Bamberton are largely knocked down and the Malahat has been open to traffic in both directions since mid-evening Thursday.

Provincial firefighting crews are still mopping up the first blaze, covering 1.4 hectares on the east side of the highway, said Marg Drysdale, fire information officer with the B.C. Wildfire Service.

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Mopping up means that crews are on top of the fire. They create a perimeter and move into the middle, checking for hot spots. They will put their hands on the ground to feel for heat and dig up the ground and turn it over.

A second fire of 1.45 hectares on the west side of the highway was listed as about 90 per cent contained Friday morning.

“The incident commander on that fire has determined that he wants to be absolutely sure that he has good containment,” Drysdale said.

Motorists on the highway faced delays of several hours Thursday as crews battled the blazes. The road reopened in both directions about 8:30 p.m.

Twenty-six provincial firefighters, three officers, three helicopters dropping buckets of water, plus air tankers were all at the scene. Firefighters with the Mill Bay, Malahat, Cowichan Bay and Shawnigan Lake fire departments were also on the scene.

The fire hazard rating is “extreme” for most of Vancouver island.

localnews@timescolonist.com

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