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Fire ignites in steep gully behind Port Alberni SPCA, now under control

Fire departments in Port Alberni spend busy afternoon dealing with multiple brush fires

A fire that sent a large plume of smoke billowing high in the sky over north Port Alberni on Thursday, June 20 is under control, according to the Coastal Fire Centre. As of Monday, June 24 the fire had decreased to half a hectare.

Calls came in Thursday in the late afternoon about the smoke. Port Alberni Fire Department crews investigated several different locations before determining the fire was in the Rogers Creek gully behind the Alberni-Clayoquot SPCA building. The fire was several hundred metres into the bush and down steep terrain, according to a firefighter at the scene.The SPCA building was never under threat.

Several fire departments were called to respond, and BC Wildfire Service also had personnel attend to assess the size and type of fire.

At 8:12 p.m. the Coastal Fire Centre reported that the fire, approximately 0.75 hectares in size, was being held. That means it was not expected to grow, and based on fuel, weather conditions and availability was expected to remain within its current perimeter.

The fire is listed on the BC WIldfire map as human caused. An employee at the SPCA said there was a homeless encampment in the bush behind the building, and deputy fire Chief Travis Cross brought a small kitten to the SPCA after it was discovered near the fire. The kitten had suffered burns and was rushed into the SPCA for emergency care. The kitten was doing well, but "it's probably going to be a long haul with him," said the SPCA's Kayla Castellarin.

Port Alberni Fire Chief Mike Owens said sprinklers are set up and firefighters will be at the site overnight monitoring for hot spots. Crews from BC Wildfire and PAFD "are anticipated to be working the fire throughout tomorrow," Owens posted on social media. "Expect to see smoke in the area."

The Rogers Creek fire was one of three that crews responded to in just over an hour. Port Alberni crews were called to Dry Creek Park near Sixth Avenue and North Park Drive to put out a fire that had spread to the bases of several trees. It was quickly extinguished, and crews were called to Rogers Creek.

While staging at the SPCA for the Rogers Creek fire, another call came in about a smouldering campfire in Dry Creek Park at 10th Avenue and North Park Drive. Crews from Cherry Creek Volunteer Fire Department were tasked to respond to that campfire and it was quickly put out.

Earlier that afternoon Sproat Lake Volunteer Fire Department was tasked to extinguish a logging truck that caught fire on Stirling Arm Drive behind Sproat Lake. The driver noticed a wheel smoking when he stopped to check his load before getting on the blacktop, SLVFD Chief Mike Cann said. The truck's trailer and some of its load of logs was on fire, but firefighters were able to prevent it from spreading to nearby bush.

A second small wildfire, about 90 square metres, that was discovered on June 22 at Nook Creek was quickly brought under control by BC Wildfire personnel.

Susie Quinn

About the Author: Susie Quinn

A journalist since 1987, I have been the Alberni Valley News editor since August 2006.
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