Hot, dry weather fanning Galiano, B.C. fire

Hot, dry weather fanning Galiano, B.C. fire

25 July 2006

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About 120 people have been evacuated from their homes on the south end of picturesque island. While fire crews continue to battle a forest fire threatening homes on Galiano Island, B.C., it looks as if Mother Nature will decide when the fire will be brought under control.

About 120 people have been evacuated from their homes on the south end of picturesque island.

There are 40 firefighters, three water bombers and four helicopters working on the blaze. In addition, three area fire departments have contributed resources.

Tim Ewart says ‘It’s a 24-hour operation until things are under control. “We’re going to run a night operation,” said fire protection officer Tim Ewart Monday afternoon.  “It’s a 24-hour operation until things are under control.”

“The forecast is not that favourable — strong winds all day, it’s hot and dry and there’s no real break until the weekend when there may be a cooler system coming in.”

There are fears the 61-hectare fire could move north up the island, “and obviously there’s some intense efforts to make sure that doesn’t happen,” said CTV’s Todd Battis told Newsnet on Monday.

“It’s been very difficult to get at the flames.”

A Mars Water Bomber flies over the fires at Galiano Island. Battis said the island, about a one-hour ferry ride from Victoria, is home to about 1,000 permanent residents. The island’s ferry service has been restricted to emergency use only.

Some of the homes at risk from the flames are worth $1 million, although none have been lost yet.

Radha Fisher, a provincial fire information officer, told The Canadian Press that the Galiano fire is the highest-priority blaze in the province.

“It is certainly the area that our resources are focusing on, with property and life being threatened,” she said.

Eighty new fires began in B.C. on the weekend, a time that saw temperatures reach the 40 degree Celsius range in the southern interior. About 60 of those fires were started by lightning. Most have been restricted to about 4 hectares in size.

“We’re not seeing the human activity that we could be seeing, which is very nice,” Fisher said.

“However we are reminding people that there is an increased risk and any type of fire use in the back country can cause a forest fire and should be done with extreme caution.”

The hot, dry weather is expected to continue all week in B.C.. Fisher said the risk of more fires is high, as is the risk that existing ones will continue to grow in size.

Three years ago, B.C. experienced a catastrophic fire season, particularly near Kelowna and north of Kamloops.

That was 2003, Battis’s first summer reporting from B.C., “and I can tell you it feels very similar.”

Kelowna registered its hottest day ever on Sunday, and there are thunderclouds building up that could deliver “dry” lightning strikes, he said.

“Understandably, everybody’s pretty cautious about the potential of forest fires,” Battis said, adding fire bans are in place for most of B.C..

With files from CTV’s Todd Battis and The Canadian Press


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