Wind the enemy at Lizard Lake blaze, near Port Renfrew

A fire at Lizard Lake near Port Renfrew continued to grow Thursday, as firefighters prepared for strong winds.

Eight days after the human-caused fire was discovered, it had reached 325 hectares — up from 275 hectares the day before.

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Strong winds expected Thursday night meant the fire could grow again by today. The fire remains 20 per cent contained.

Firefighters spent the day increasing “bucketing” along the northern flank, which is the edge of the fire that is spreading into new territory, said Ellie Dupont, a fire information officer with the B.C. Wildfire Service.

Bucketing is a technique whereby a soft bucket is attached to the bottom of a helicopter using a long line.

“They dip it in the water source, it fills with water and they have something like a lever to release it over the fire,” Dupont said. “It’s a precise drop. So rather than an air tanker going over and having 50 per cent of the water evaporate [before it reaches the fire], they can lower the bucket right down and release it where they want to.”

Dupont said the bucketing was used to support firefighters on the ground who were digging up soil to access underground fires.

Nine helicopters and 157 firefighters fought the blaze Thursday. They had also laid down hoses and bladders — which Dupont described as pools for helicopters to dip their buckets in — around 50 per cent of the perimeter.

Containment around the southern flank has been progressing well.

Temperatures, terrains and available fuel have made suppression more difficult along the northern flank, the B.C. Wildfire Service said.

The public may notice some smoke drifting into the valleys and settling in low-lying areas.

Pacific Marine Road between Port Renfrew and Lake Cowichan remains closed, along with Lizard Lake and Fair Lake recreation sites. Highway 14 between Sooke and Port Renfrew is open and unaffected.

Elsewhere in B.C., firefighters made progress containing the Rock Creek fire east of Osoyoos, on Thursday, but changing weather could be their biggest foe. The 42-square kilometre blaze is now 50 per cent contained, but forecasts for the boundary region call for a dry, cold front and wind.

Thirty homes and 15 other structures have been destroyed since the human-caused blaze broke out one week ago.

Hundreds of people who left their homes as flames encroached have returned, but they are on alert to leave again at a moment’s notice.

The Rock Creek fire is one of more than 200 blazes burning across the province, for a total of 1,722 wildfires since April.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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