Local firefighters from Lake Cowichan and Sahtlam were called to combat a large forest fire near Skutz Falls late afternoon on Tuesday (July 28), visible from both ends of Highway 18.
The blaze was still burning as of Wednesday morning (July 29), and is located on Skutz Falls Road, 10 km east of Cowichan Lake. Though crews first speculated that there could be two separate fires, it was confirmed that they were dealing with one 10 hectare (24.7 acre) fire.
According to Coastal Fire Centre information officer Marg Drysdale, the fire broke out on private forested land in slash (bucked and felled timber) amidst a steep slope.
“There are only certain areas of the fire they can work on, so they’re doing a lot of bucketing and other work on the edges,” Drysdale said. “There’s also concern of rolling debris – it’s a whole different beast.”
The local firefighters were relieved Tuesday night, and the BC Wildfire Service has since taken up the fight. The crew consists of two BC Wildfire response officers, two initial attack crews, 18 contract firefighters, three water tenders, fire helicopters and air tankers, including the Martin MARS waterbomber. Industry representatives were also on the scene, and a Type 1 Unit Crew – consisting of 20 firefighters – was en route Wednesday morning.
The fire is believed to be human-caused and an investigation is currently ongoing. No evacuations or road closures have been issued, despite speculation by residents.