Rain streak prompts lifting of campfire ban in coastal region

A run on rainy days has meant sufficient moisture to lift the campfire ban in the Coastal Fire Centre, and fewer wildfire concerns on north Vancouver Island

The ban in the fire centre’s jurisdiction, which includes all of Vancouver Island, had been in effect since July 18.

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“We got enough rain for enough days that we don’t think a campfire ban is necessary,” said Coastal Fire Centre spokeswoman Dorthe Jakobsen. In areas where there are category 2 and 3 fires, the ban is still in effect.

Category 2 fires burn piles no larger than two metres high and three metres wide, while category 3 fires are larger than two metres high by three metres wide.

The fire-ban message over the past two months didn’t register with all campers. The B.C. Conservation Officer Service issued 62 warnings and 63 tickets for violations throughout the Coastal Fire Centre.

The basic fine is $1,150, and can apply to every person around a campfire.

Jakobsen said there are 52 wildfires remaining around northern Vancouver Island between Campbell and Port McNeill. All are lightning-caused.

“There’s still a few fires … but they’re not burning vigorously,” she said. “They’ve had lots of rain, so that has really calmed down the fire activity.

“They’re all under control, which means we believe there’s no likelihood of spreading under current conditions.”

That assessment includes the Zeballos area fire, burning since mid-August near the community of just over 100, where at one point some residents were evacuated and others were put on evacuation alert. Problems with steep slopes around the village in the aftermath of fires have now meant more evacuations, Jakobsen said.

“Now that some of that slope has burned, and with some heavy rains in the forecast, the concerns have increased about the slope stability.”

Elsewhere, successful firefighting have meant the reopening of the roads that make up the Alice Lake Loop between Port Alice and Port McNeill, as well as the Keogh Main Road and the Merry Widow Main Road. The latter two openings mean that recreation sites in the area of the roads are open.

jwbell@timescolonist.com

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