A map from the BC Wildfire Service shows the location of a wildfire on East Redonda Island. The fire had reached an estimated 200 hectares by Tuesday afternoon.

Suspected human-caused fire reaches 200 hectares in ecological reserve

Wildfire burning on East Redonda Island

A wildfire burning in an ecological reserve in the Discovery Islands grew over the weekend to reach 200 hectares, according to the BC Wildfire Service.

A spokesperson for the provincial wildfire authority said on Tuesday afternoon that firefighters weren’t trying to suppress the fire, which is suspected to be person-caused. But crews were working to keep it within the limits of the 6,212-hectare East Redonda Island Ecological Reserve.

“BC Parks’ objectives for the ecological reserve indicate that we’re not using any fire suppression activities in there,” said Dorthe Jakobsen, an information officer with the Coastal Wildfire Centre.

“We’ve put a control line down, which we are maintaining, and watching and monitoring to make sure it doesn’t leave the ecological reserve,” Jakobsen said.

There were 13 firefighters and two helicopters at the blaze on East Redonda Island, according to Jakobsen. She added that the fire had grown by about 90 hectares over the weekend. The island is located east of Campbell River.

The fire is believed to be person-caused, but Jakobsen wouldn’t speculate about how exactly it started.

“We suspect it’s human-caused and it’s under investigation,” she said.

The blaze may be contributing to smoky conditions on Vancouver Island.

Comox Valley fire chief Gord Schreiner said the fire department had received multiple reports of smoke in the Comox area, which he attributed to fires on the mainland or possibly on East Redonda Island.  

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On Tuesday afternoon, there were 55 active wildfires burning on the North Island, according to Shayne McCool, an information officer with the BC Wildfire Service.

Rainy conditions on Sunday helped push back fires on the North Island, including one that’s been burning just outside of Zeballos for more than three weeks.  

“That fire did receive some significant rain,” said McCool. “That’s helped reduce fire activity in the area.”

He said that a five-man structural protection unit was departing from Zeballos on Tuesday, leaving two firefighters and one helicopter.

Rain also helped with a fire at Pinder Creek, near the Zeballos access road, McCool said, though he added that the blaze remained relatively active. There were 16 firefighters and a helicopter fighting that fire on Tuesday, he said.

Rainfall is forecasted for the weekend, starting on Friday, a good sign for the fire-weary North Island.

“Should that materialize, that would certainly be positive for us,” he said. “However, we’re continuing to manage these fires in the interim. If that rain doesn’t materialize, we’re still prepared for the worst possible scenario.”

McCool urged members of the public to respect the campfire ban that’s currently in effect.

That applies everywhere on Vancouver Island, expect for the “fog zone,” a two-kilometre strip of land on the outside of the Island, roughly from Port Renfrew to Port Hardy.

-With files from Erin Haluschak, Comox Valley Record

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