A forest fire near Meade Lake that was sparked by the electrical storm Sunday night was considered out of control and covered six hectares as of Tuesday morning. (BC Wildlife Service)

A forest fire near Meade Lake that was sparked by the electrical storm Sunday night was considered out of control and covered six hectares as of Tuesday morning. (BC Wildlife Service)

Fire near Sooke Reservoir burning out of control after electrical storm

Crews from Coastal Fire Centre working to extinguish them

The Cowichan Valley and much of southern Vancouver Island were treated to a rare spectacle on Sunday evening as forked lightning danced across the skies and thunder shook buildings.

It’s believed the lightning sparked at least 30 spot fires in the region covered by the Coastal Fire Service, including one near Lake Cowichan at Meade Creek and one near the Sooke Lake Reservoir.

The CFS’s Dorthe Jakobsen said, as of Tuesday morning, the fire at Meade Creek was considered out of control and covered six hectares.

She said 17 firefighters, two helicopters and two fire-fighting machines on the ground were tackling the blaze.

“That fire is on an incline so there is significant access and safety issues related to rolling debris,” she said. “For those reasons, it will likely take firefighters a little longer to get it under control.”

Jakobsen said the fire at near the Sooke reservoir covered eight hectares as of Tuesday morning and was also considered out of control.

RELATED: B.C. teen’s horse killed by lightning in weekend thunderstorm

She said fire crews had been assigned to it, but was unable to provide specifics.

Jakobsen said the fire on Mount Healey that covered four hectares as of Tuesday morning, as well as much smaller fires, most under an acre, near Reinhart Lake (Cowichan Lake area), Reinhart Creek (Cowichan Lake area), McGee Creek (Shawnigan Lake) and Holland Lake (Cowichan Lake area), were all considered out of control as of Tuesday morning.

“We have a total of five unit crews, each consisting of 20 firefighters, 20 three-person initial attack crews, two four-man rappel firefighting crews, 17 helicopters and two contract crews assisting to help put out all the approximately 30 fires that are now burning in the area of the Coastal Fire Centre, and we assign them to the fires based on priority,” she said.

“Safety to humans is the first priority, and then location and terrain. We’re trying our best to get to them quick and get them under control. The picture is still evolving and changing, and there may yet be more fires related to the electrical storm as some may be just smouldering and could still escalate. There is rain in the forecast for later in the week and that should help with the fires.”

Environment Canada said approximately 1,600 lightning strikes occurred across southern Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, and the western parts of the Lower Mainland during the storm, which began Sunday evening and ended early Monday morning.

Meteorologist Armel Castellan acknowledged that electrical storms of such intensity are rare for this area.

He said the storm occurred due to instability in the atmosphere as the high-pressure ridge of warm air that caused the weekend’s heat wave began to break down, which caused lot of buildup of energy in the lower atmosphere.

Castellan said as the higher levels in the atmosphere cooled, the destabilization caused high-level thunderstorm clouds to develop.

He said the resulting storm wasn’t technically one with dry lightning, which occurs when the lower atmosphere is dry and precipitation evaporates before it reaches the ground, as many communities on the southern portion of Vancouver Island had some showers, although not as heavy as seen in many other electrical storms in the area.

“It was a pretty rare event, and it did cause some fires,” Castellan said.

“The weather system that broke down and caused the electrical storm broke some heat records, but while temperatures in North Cowichan were recorded at 33.7 C at their highest on Sunday afternoon, we haven’t had weather stations there long enough to determine if that was a record. But the temperature in Lytton, located in the interior, hit 41.2 C on Sunday, which was a record for that community.”

READ ALSO: Lightning fills the Vancouver Island night sky (photos)

Castellan said it’s expected that temperatures in the Valley will become more seasonal, between 22-24 C, as the week progresses, and showers are forecast for late Thursday into Friday.

“We’re getting back to a wetter weather pattern, but we won’t likely see an enormous amount of rain,” he said.

“The average rain for the Valley in August is about 30 millimetres and we’ve had about 12 so far. We expect to see another 10 to 12 millimetres by the end of the week so we’re already getting close to the average precipitation this month. Last year, we received only about eight millimetres for the whole month.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

forest fire

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Langford Fire Rescue (Black Press Media file photo)
Langford looks to strike out on its own for emergency fire dispatch services

Mayor Stew Young says the city is large enough to negotiate solo

Victoria Police Department looks to identify a person of interest after a Friday night stabbing. (VicPD handout)
Police seek person of interest after Victoria stabbing

Friday night assault leaves one with potentially life-altering injuries

Sidney Lions Club is currently selling 50/50 raffle tickets for a virtual fundraiser to send kids and adults with disabilities to Easter Seals Camps like the one at Camp Shawnigan. (Easter Seals/Submitted)
Sidney service club raises funds people with disabilities to have some summer fun

Raffle helps fund in-person and online summer camps for adults and children

The Capital Regional District hopes to be a national leader in zero waste and the circular economy, but getting there will take curbing construction waste and addressing challenges brought on by the region’s growth. Pictured is the Hartland landfill. (Black Press Media file photo)
CRD aims to be zero waste national leader, reduce enough to curb landfill expansion

Capital Region will have to reduce major waste sources: construction, organics from apartments

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about phase two in B.C.’s COVID-19 immunization plan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
All of B.C. will eventually ease out of COVID-19 restrictions at same time: Henry

People who have received two doses of a vaccine can’t yet return to post-pandemic activities with each other, she says

Winnipeg Jets’ Andrew Copp (9) and Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith (41) watch an incoming shot during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, April 26, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
‘Very jealous’: Canadian teams can’t take advantage of NHL’s relaxed COVID-19 rules

League eased some tight COVID-19 health and safety protocols over the weekend for fully vaccinated clubs

A map of Huu-ay-aht-owned forestry cutblock. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
B.C. First Nations restrict access to territory in wake of forestry standoffs

Huu-ay-aht set up checkpoints after heated and dangerous incidents on southwest Vancouver Island

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a ‘person of interest’ in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
RCMP identify ‘person of interest’ in Kootenay National Park suspicious death

Police are looking for Philip Toner, who was known to a woman found dead near Radium last week

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add 6 seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

Nuu-chah-nulth woman recovering from gunshot wounds in weekend incident near Ucluelet

Most Read