UPDATE: Evacuation alert continues for Maple Mountain fire; blaze contained, but still burning

Flames were visible as firefighters worked the blaze on Maple Mountain Wednesday afternoon. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Flames were visible as firefighters worked the blaze on Maple Mountain Wednesday afternoon. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Firefighters have mustered off Osborne Bay Road at Maple Mountain to fight a bush blaze. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

UPDATE 8 a.m.: Fire crews spent the night keeping watch over the blaze that began Wednesday afternoon on Maple Mountain just outside Crofton in the Cowichan Valley.

The Municipality of North Cowichan reported that at 3:15 a.m., crews successfully doused a 50 x 50 ft area that was burning again.

“This morning, crews from multiple fire departments are gathering to plan for the coming day,” the municipality said. “The continued hot, dry weather tends to encourage fire growth. The fire is contained but still burning and may continue to erupt for several more days.”

The request is continued for people to stay out of the area so fire crews can work.

The evacuation alert for Osborne Bay Road East from Herd Road to Tatlo Road West continues as those residences are closest to the wildfire.

“Please stay on the ready as heat and wind can make wildfires unpredictable,” the municipality said.

UPDATE 8 p.m.: Osborne Bay Road has reopened between Herd Road and Crofton, and residents who had left their homes for firefighting reasons have been allowed to return home, but a 30-minute evacuation alert remains in place as firefighters continue to battle a blaze that broke out Wednesday afternoon on Maple Mountain.

The Municipality of North Cowichan has advised that unless the fire grows in size again, there will be no new updates until 8 a.m. on Thursday (Aug. 9).

Residents of Osborne Bay Road between Tatlo Road West and Herd Road have been advised door-to-door by the RCMP to prepare for an evacuation order due to the forest fire on Maple Mountain.

“They have 30 minutes to evacuate if an order is given,” Cst. Pam Bolton explained. “There has not been an order given. If an order is given, we will go down and make direct contact with residents.”

The Municipality of North Cowichan is advising those on alert to pack prescriptions, water, clothing, pet supplies, cell phones and chargers.

Seven fire halls including Maple Bay, Crofton, Chemainus, Duncan, Sahtlam, North Cowichan’s South End hall and Cowichan Bay as well as the BC Wildfire Service have been called out battle the fire, which is believed to be human-caused. Ladysmith crews are standing by at the Chemainus fire hall while a crew from Mill Bay is stationed at the Duncan hall.

Initial reports from the scene were that there were spot fires and heavy smoke showing. Three helicopters have been brought in from the Coastal Fire Centre to help from the air, as well as three firefighters who are on the ground. Firefighting planes are also circling the blaze. The fire is about a hectare in size at this time.

Maple Mountain is in the North Cowichan Municipal Forest Reserve, and the municipality also brought in water trucks and a backhoe as well as firefighting equipment to deal with the flames. Trails in the area are closed.

“The fire is located approximately 1km east of the Municipal Forest Reserve parking lot on Osborne Bay Road,” North Cowichan spokesperson Natasha Horsman said. “Multiple fire departments and the BC Wildfire Service are responding. The public is asked to avoid the mountain and closed signs are being installed at Maple Mountain trailheads. Large-scale evacuation [is] not required at this time.”

New information from the Municipality is available at www.northcowichan.ca/FireEvent

For alerts from North Cowichan, sign up for e-alerts at www.northcowichan.ca/eAlert

RELATED: Helicopters arrive to help battle wildfire near Port Alberni

RELATED: Nanaimo Lakes wildfire growing, but crews gaining some containment

The Cowichan Exhibition has agreed to provide space for horses that need to be evacuated from the Maple Mountain area if necessary. For more information, contact the Ex office at 250-748-0882.

RELATED: No B.C. region left untouched with 462 wildfires burning

Maple Mountain is a popular spot for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and more.

More as it becomes available.

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