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VIDEO: Aerial tankers brought in to fight wildfire near Port Alberni

Fire has doubled to 2 hectares on Beaufort Range bluff in Cherry Creek

Multiple aerial firefighting tankers and helicopters with Bambi Buckets are now attacking a wildfire at the south end of Cherry Creek Road near Port Alberni.

The fire was reported before 5 p.m. on Monday (June 28, 2021) and was added to the BC Wildfire map. BC Wildfire Service has now taken command of the fire, which has grown to two hectares, according to Dorthe Jakobsen, fire information officer with the Coastal Fire Centre.

“It’s a new fire; it’s still considered out of control because it’s new,” said Jakobsen. “BC Wildfire Service has multiple crews, an officer, three helicopters and air tankers responding.”

Cherry Creek resident Tony Shumuk said shortly after 7 p.m. that two aerial firefighting helicopters with Bambi buckets were pouring water on the fire, and he could see an excavator on the site as well.

READ: Wildfire near Port Alberni doubles in size

Jakobsen said extremely dry conditions demand a quick response to reports of a wildfire. “In these conditions any fire that starts is dangerous. It will burn quickly and hot and agressively. So we want to catch these when they’re small.

“The crews have been doing a tremendous job on the fires. In these conditions that’s really amazing.”

Port Alberni broke its all-time heat record of 41.7 degrees Celsius on Monday, June 28. The weather station at the Alberni Valley Regional Airport reported 42.2 degrees Celsius at 4 p.m. with a humidex of 46. It was the third consecutive daily heat broken in the city.

This is the second time a wildfire has burned out of control in the same area in the past three years.

Fire crews battled a blaze on the Beaufort Range bluff for several days during another hot, dry summer in 2018. The fire grew to 10 hectares overnight in August 2018 due to conditions.

There was also a spot fire on the Cumberland side of the Beaufort Range, noticed around 10:30 a.m. Monday. That fire is deemed under control by the Coastal Fire Centre.

Jakobsen told the Comox Valley Record that the centre is seeing a lot of fire started by vehicles or by cigarettes being tossed out of car windows, both of which are exceptionally dangerous. The fire danger level for the region has been elevated to Extreme Fire Danger Rating, the Port Alberni Fire Department tweeted Monday afternoon.

— With files from Erin Haluschak, Black Press

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Smoke can be seen in the bluffs above the Alberni Golf Club in Cherry Creek, at the bottom of the Beaufort Range near Port Alberni. (TONY SHUMUK/ Special to the AV News)