Single wildfire burning on Vancouver Island, where firefighters benefit from damper conditions

While much of the rest of the province deals with spreading wildfires, only a single fire is currently burning on the Island. That blaze, known as the Muir Creek fire, is near Shirley about 17 kilometres west of Sooke.

The fire was first reported Friday and is 0.3 hectares in size, said fire information officer Marg Drysdale with the Coastal Fire Centre. It’s suspected to be human-caused and is under investigation, she said.

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The fire was classified as “being held” for a time but crews monitoring the area found a hot spot outside the perimeter they had established, Drysdale said. At that point, the fire was designated “out of control,” but Drysdale said it hasn’t grown much.

Twelve crew members and a helicopter were battling the fire on Wednesday.

Sooke Fire Chief Kenn Mount said his department is poised to help if needed, but hasn’t received a support request.

He said the local fire-hazard rating is “extreme,” which means members of the public — especially smokers — need to take extra care.

“We typically have had problems in the past with carelessness with the smoking community.”

Drysdale said Island crews have had a few factors in their favour this wildfire season, including higher relative humidity, which means more moisture in the air than in the Interior, and lower temperatures. Those conditions are linked to the Island’s marine climate, she said. “We generally have a wetter environment.”

As a result, firefighters have been able to manage wildfires in initial attacks, she said. “So that means that they have been able to get to the fires quickly and deal with them.

“They haven’t got the spread rates that they have in the Interior.”

Despite the number of fires burning across B.C., smoky air hasn’t been a big problem so far on Vancouver Island and in other coastal areas, said Environment Canada meteorologist Lisa Erven.

She said the wind is blowing the smoke farther into the Interior and into other provinces.

Sooke’s weather calls for no rain at least for the next week, with temperatures ranging from 18 to 22 C.

jbell@timescolonist.com

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