A suspicious fire at the top of the Cowichan Main logging road, approximately four kilometers east of Lake Cowichan burned for over two days last week.
The Lake Cowichan Fire Department was called out to the blaze on the evening of Aug. 22, but soon was informed by the B.C. Forestry Wildfire Management Branch that because the road is so overgrown they were not needed and were sent back.
“We could have gone up in pick-up trucks,” said Doug Knott, the Lake Cowichan fire chief, and added that because TimberWest and B.C. Wildfire Management were on site taking the same action, Lake Cowichan Fire Department crews were not needed.
Donna MacPherson, the fire information officer for the Coastal Fire Service says that the fire started small, at about half a hectare in size, but winds resulting from a low pressure system on Thursday, Aug. 23 upped the fire to two hectares.
In the early afternoon this same day, the Martin Mars water bomber had to be called down from Sproat Lake, near Pt. Alberni. The bomber dumped two loads on the fire, then left the rest to a Forestry helicopter and provincial and industry ground crews. These crews worked until approximately 9 p.m.
As of Friday, crews were able to bring the fire under control.
“We’re basically in mop up. It’s still burning,” said MacPherson at the time, “but it’s basically smoldering with some open flame. We’re not in the forecast for wind today, so that’s good.”
Crews from the Wildland Fire Service, along with TimberWest crews, were seen down at the boat launch in Lake Cowichan refilling tanker trucks and other vehicles on both Thursday and Friday.
Bruce Ingram, from B.R.I Security was there with his wife, Coun. Jayne Ingram, to help fill the vehicles and make sure crews had enough water and food to keep them hydrated and fed while they worked.
MacPherson says the fire is human caused and is under investigation.
Lake Cowichan RCMP did have to rescue a man who had gotten lost on the mountain after a fight with his wife in the early morning hours of Aug. 22.
“Long and short of it is, adult male has fight with wife so he decides he’s going to show her. So off he goes up the mountain,” said Sgt. Dave Voller of the Lake Cowichan RCMP.
The man phoned 911 at approximately 2 a.m. He could not distinguish any landmarks as fog had set in. Officers told him to stay where he was until they could reach him.
“So our guys fired up the ATVs, went round and best guess was he’d be up Cowichan Main, so off they went and 6.5 kilometres up there they found him . . . but by then it was 6 a.m.,” said Voller.
Voller has queried the officers to find out if the individual was a smoker or if he lit a fire of any kind.
No link between the man and the fire has been made, and the cause of the fire remains under investigation.
As of press day (Monday), the fire had not been officially declared out, but Marg Drysdale of the Coastal Fire Centre says that it has been turned back over to the property owners (TimberWest), and that they are conducting regular patrols to ensure there are no hot spots.