A forest fire outside of Port Hardy that began Friday July 3 continues to burn this morning, and has grown 2 hectares since last night. The Tsulquate River area fire began 1.5 km from Port Hardy on Friday, and heavy winds that blew embers towards residential homes prompted the town to evacuate structures on Mayor’s Way and Upper Carnarvon.
Donna MacPherson, Fire Information Officer for the Coastal Fire Centre, said early Saturday morning that the initial forest fire is now eight hectares in size, while a smaller spot fire is now measuring about 1 hectare. The fire is classified as a high-risk ground fire, and the major contributing factors to its growth are strong wind and unusually dry forest conditions.
On Friday evening air tankers were able to drop fire retardant, but were grounded as night fell. On Saturday morning a large helicopter began to drop water on both fires, focusing on the spot fire first. “It’s an awfully big piece of equipment that can move a lot of water, and it’s close to the ocean, so that’s a huge plus,” said MacPherson of the strategy.
Fire crews are taking advantage of the early morning hours as the wind is not as strong as last night, and the temperature is slightly cooler. Coastal Fire is concerned that they will be battling the flames today when temperature and wind speed expected to both be high.
At 6:30 a.m. outside of the Emergency Operations Centre set up on the evening prior, Karla Broadfoot of Emergency Support Services confirmed that no evacuated residents slept there overnight. “Luckily most people were able to go to other’s houses,” she said, adding that about five to seven people checked into local accommodation after evacuating. Broadfoot said that her and other Emergency Support Services workers are available as long as the situation calls for.