There was a sense of deja vu last Wednesday as the Port Hardy Fire Department was called out to a one-hectare fire on the Duval Forest Service Road, behind Mayor’s Way. The blaze, in the same vicinity as last year’s Tsulquate fire, began just before 4 p.m.
“The cause of the fire is under investigation,” said Fire Chief Schell Nickerson. “My speculation would be that there was a little campfire there some days ago and the wind got an ember into a root and continued on days later,” Nickerson said. “There was a sign of a campfire there, but it could have been from last year,” Nickerson said, adding that if that was the case the fire would still be considered human-caused. “We lucked out that it wasn’t dryer. If this was later on and hotter temperatures, it could have spread worse,” he said.
Fighting the fire was a tough go because of the location. “Everyone was pretty tired because of that hill they had to go up. There was a path up it, but it was steep and that makes it even more tiring for those guys.”
The fire was within the municipal boundary, but very close to Crown land. Port Hardy initially had three trucks and 13 firefighters on the ground fighting the fire, said Nickerson. Port Hardy contacted the Coastal Fire Centre which dispatched a helicopter and one initial attack crew (which is a crew of three) from Campbell River.
“We have been called to assist the local fire department,” said Coastal Fire Centre Fire Information Officer Marg Drysdale. Before the helicopter arrived, the fire had been brought under control, but there were still a number of hotspots. The Port McNeill Fire Department was called in to help extinguish them.
A total of 31 crew were on scene for six hours fighting the blaze which was contained as of 10 p.m., however the area was patrolled for another three days. The Port Hardy Fire Department is currently looking for seven frontline volunteer firefighters and two volunteer administrative assistants.