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No growth since Friday on Copper Canyon fire near Chemainus

Special crew parachuted in helping with containment at 32 hectares
The Copper Canyon fire as it looked from behind Mount Prevost in the early stages. (Photo by Bud Gagnon)

Crews are managing to hold the Copper Canyon fire burning west of Chemainus and north of Mount Prevost to 32 hectares.

Previously referred to as the Holyoak Creek fire by the BC Wildfire Service, it was first reported around midnight Thursday and grew to 32 hectares within 24 hours. It’s still considered out of control, but containment seems to be working.

“There’s been no growth overnight so the fire hasn’t grown since Friday night,” said Dorthe Jakobsen, fire information officer for the Coastal Fire Centre. “The crews are making good progress.”

Related story: UPDATE: Report of fire at Skutz Falls turns out to be ‘smoke chase’

There are currently 46 firefighters working on the site, aided by the use of three helicopters, water tenders and heavy equipment.

A para-attack crew from Fort St. John literally parachuted in Friday at 5 p.m. to join the firefight due to “the remoteness of that part of the fire,” noted Jakobsen. “They’re a self-contained team and they’re able to bring lots of equipment. It’s a special crew. They call them smoke jumpers colloquially.”

The firefighters jumped from a DC-3 aircraft and also dropped considerable gear to be picked up and utilized on the ground.

Their ability to get into difficult locations presented by fires such as this can be a game-changer in these circumstances. Large plumes of smoke seen in the early stages of the fire rising above Mount Prevost are no longer visible.

Some rain overnight Friday was also helpful, but had minimal impact on knocking it down.

A big concern with fighting the fire has been the wind that became quite gusty at times during the weekend. There were also calmer periods where further progress could be made.

“We are in a heating trend now which does kick up winds,” said Jakobsen.

“That’s one of the reasons we are aggressively actioning this fire to contain the perimeter before the heat comes on.”

Temperatures are expected to reach into the low 30s Celsius again before the end of the week.

A Local State of Emergency declared Friday by the Cowichan Valley Regional District and the Municipality of North Cowichan remains in effect until Aug. 13. One property on Mount Prevost Road has been issued an evacuation order.

Don Bodger

About the Author: Don Bodger

I've been a part of the newspaper industry since 1980 when I began on a part-time basis covering sports for the Ladysmith-Chemainus Chronicle.
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