Fire crews continue to battle a 120-hectare blaze burning 10 kilometres north of Agassiz.
The Mt. Hicks wildfire was first discovered on Wednesday, Aug. 8 along Highway 7. As of Wednesday, Aug. 16, it was deemed 15 per cent contained, according to the B.C. Wildfire Service.
The fire led to sporadic closures along Highway 7 between Seabird Bluffs and the Johnson Slough rest area Wednesday afternoon.
The fire, which is suspected to have been caused by a vehicle with a flat tire, is not threatening any homes or structures.
The blaze has grown modestly in the past week, at its peak reaching 150 hectares in size. The fire prompted the evacuation and closure of Sasquatch Provincial Park on Saturday, Aug. 11. The B.C. park remains closed, according to the ministry.
Forty firefighters supported by five helicopters and one piece of heavy equipment have been working to secure power lines and contain the fire along the roadside. They are continuing to establish a control line west along the south flank. Crews are also assessing the north edge for access options. Crews will work on this fire where it is safe to do so.
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Ground crews are battling tough terrain, setting up guard lines only when it is safe to do so, Dorothy Jacobsen, Coastal Fire Centre information officer, told Black Press Media Wednesday.
“Suppression efforts are working well,” she said, “but there has been challenges.”
Agassiz, Popkum and Seabird Island fire departments have combined efforts to combat the fire.
“When the first trucks arrived, they encountered a fast-moving wildfire travelling up the mountain side into the forest,”deputy fire chief Gerald Basten told The Observer earlier this week.
An Agassiz firefighter reportedly suffered heat stroke while fighting the blaze and was transported to Chilliwack General Hospital while another was taken back to the fire hall to recover.
Seabird Island Band chief administrative officer Daryl McNeil said he pulled over on the side of Highway 7 last Thursday night (Aug. 9) and saw a pretty dramatic scene. He can’t remember the last time there was a wildfire this close to the band.
“You could see red streaks from the bottom of the hill with some flare-ups. It was about three-quarters of the way up the mountain with lots of hot spots,” he said.
The Mt. Hicks fire is the only wildfire burning in the Lower Mainland, in part producing some of the heavy smoke blanketing the region.
Emergency Management B.C. is urging caution as poor air quality can be harmful to the health of infants, young children, the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions.
Suggestions include to reduce the amount of time spent outdoors, stay hydrated and avoid rigorous outdoor activities.
When indoors, keep the air clean (windows/doors closed, no smoking, no burning fireplaces/candles/incense and no vacuuming).
Consider buying a commercially available HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter and creating a clean-air shelter in one room of your home.
In a vehicle, keep windows closed with air conditioning set to recirculate.
Visit places with air conditioning, such as shopping malls, community centres, swimming pools and public libraries, as they often have cleaner, cooler air than smaller buildings or the outdoors.
People with asthma or other chronic illness should activate their personal care plans, and ensure they have an adequate supply of life-saving medication with them at all times.