‘We were struggling’: Firefighters battle 55 hectare blaze in Delta
Published Sunday, July 3, 2016 1:35PM PDT
Last Updated Monday, July 4, 2016 10:14AM PDT
Fire crews from across the Lower Mainland have been called in to battle a quick-moving, ‘unpredictable’ grass fire in Delta, B.C.
The blaze began around 11:40 a.m. on Sunday in Burns Bog, starting at around 10 hectares and quickly spreading to 55 by mid-afternoon.
“We were struggling,” said Delta Fire Chief Dan Copeland. “We had heavy winds this afternoon… they were shifting on us, and it was quite an unpredictable fire.”
Forty firefighters from the BC Wildfires Service joined crews from across Metro Vancouver to battle the blaze. Copeland says five air tankers and four helicopters were also deployed.
One firefighter was injured, but was taken to hospital and is currently in stable condition.
Burns Bog is an ecosystem spanning roughly 3,000 hectares between the south arm of the Fraser River and Boundary Bay. It is located near 72nd Avenue off Highway 91.
Numerous roads were closed Sunday, including Highway 17 (South Fraser Perimeter Road) from the 17a and 17 Junction all the way to Nordel Way, as well as River Road from 62B all the way to Nordel Way.
There was also a marine closure in the Fraser River to allow vessels access to water needed to fight the fire.
Police confirmed evacuations in the industrial area of Tilbury were also ordered, from 76th Street to Webster Road, as well as from Progress Way over to River Road.
By Sunday evening the fire was still a safe distance away from any homes or businesses, but one of four radio towers in the area transmitting a signal for the local radio station AM730 has burned down.
Delta’s Mayor Lois Jackson urged residents to avoid the area at all costs.
“Please keep away from this area,” she said. “We don’t want to have any additional problems other than fighting this fire.”
The last time a major fire broke out at Burns Bog was in 2005, and that fire was determined to be human caused. Local officials have tried to keep people out of the bog exactly for this reason – the fear of sparking a fire – ever since.
“Again we are faced with another major wildfire… but we are in good hands, and doing everything we possibly could be doing,” Jackson said. “This is something that is very near and dear to all of us, and we’re hoping to get this fire kicked down as soon as we can.”
Part of what makes the fire in the bog so hard to knock down is a unique ecosystem and a high content of peat moss.
“I always worry about the people on the ground that are out there,” added Jackson. “It has been a very big challenge and we’re hoping everyone’s okay out there.”
The cause of the fire has yet to be determined.