North Cowichan South End firefighters make sure a blaze at the old VIU campus is properly extinguished. (Warren Goulding/Citizen)

Dangerous Duncan fire quickly doused Saturday

Smoke could be seen rising from the area by people attending the Quw’utsun Intertribal Pow Wow

A fire that broke out at the former Vancouver Island University site on Cowichan Way in Duncan in the early evening of Saturday, July 28, was quickly doused before it could become catastrophic.

Smoke could be seen rising from the area by people attending the Quw’utsun Intertribal Pow Wow at the Siem Lelum fields.

The flames were quickly put out by passersby but Duncan Volunteer Fire Department arrived quickly and made sure the very dry area around the blackened trees was safe.

Duncan fire chief Mike McKinlay said firefighters took about 45 minutes to put out all the hot spots.

He said all the dry brush and grass in an approximately 20- by 50-foot area was burned in the fire, which came very close to some buildings in the area before it was extinguished.

Witnesses said the fire was started in some small trees behind a building now rented by Island Health, one of the former VIU campus buildings, and McKinlay said initial reports at the scene suggested that it was started by homeless people.

The fire danger rating in the area is at extreme, and conditions are tinder dry, as the Cowichan Valley also endures an Environment Canada heat warning.

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