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Out-of-control wildfire on Lower Mainland sees massive growth

The Chehalis River fire, shown in this undated photo from the BC Wildfire Service, grew to an estimated 800 hectares on June 7, 2023. The Chehalis River fire, shown in this undated photo from the BC Wildfire Service, grew to an estimated 800 hectares on June 7, 2023.

A human-caused wildfire on the Lower Mainland has grown to an estimated 800 hectares and continues to burn out of control Wednesday, according to the BC Wildfire Service.

The Chehalis River fire is now classified as a wildfire of note, meaning it is highly visible or poses a potential public safety risk. It is one of two burning out of control near Harrison Lake that have created smoky conditions across the Fraser Valley and Metro Vancouver, prompting an air quality advisory.

The blaze was sparked on Saturday but the BCWS says significant growth has occurred due to "active burning conditions" over the last 48 hours – with an increase in size of 500 hectares since Tuesday.

"Fire growth is in the direction away from the community, no evacuation orders or alerts are recommended at this time," an online update from the BCWS says.

The other out-of-control wildfire near Harrison Lake is less than a tenth of the size. The Staitu Creek fire is estimated at 73 hectares and has not been classified as a wildfire of note. Still, the BCWS describes it as "the highest priority fire in the Fraser Zone due to proximity to community."

No evacuation alerts or orders have been recommended, but the fire's behaviour is described by the BCWS as "aggressive" and the conditions as "challenging."

No information is currently available online regarding the magnitude of the response or the precise resources deployed. CTV News has contacted the Coastal Fire Centre to request details.

A ban on campfires comes into effect on the Lower Mainland and throughout most if the rest of the province at noon on Thursday. Tinder-dry conditions have also raised the fire danger to extreme in much of the region. According to the BCWS, this means "new fires will start easily, spread rapidly, and challenge fire suppression efforts." 

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