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BC Wildfires: Blaze above Horseshoe Bay, death on Vancouver Island

Last Updated Aug 9, 2018 at 12:48 pm PDT

A wildfire burns in the hills by Horseshoe Bay on Aug. 9, 2018. (Source: Twitter @metrovanemerg)

Waterbombing helicopter above Horseshoe Bay area

Wildfire burning north of Agassiz

Man dies helping crews fighting fire near Nanaimo

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A waterbombing helicopter is in the air around Horseshoe Bay, as crews work to douse a wildfire in the nearby hills.

“The fire has grown significantly overnight, from approximately one hectare up to three hectares,” says West Vancouver assistant chief Jeff Bush.

“It’s an extremely area to access due to the number of hazard trees and the terrain… A hazard tree is a tree that could collapse.”

He says it is an active fire that is still not contained, but crews are gaining some ground on it. Bush adds wind will be a major factor today, in terms of how much progress they will be able to make on the blaze.

No people or buildings are at risk.

“It’s just above the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal,” explains Darren Grieve from the NEWS 1130 Air Patrol. “If you’re coming along the Upper Levels Highway westbound towards Horseshoe Bay, you’ll start to see the smoke. Certainly, once you turn up towards Squamish to get on to the Sea to Sky Highway, you’re going to see it on your right-hand side, almost immediately.”

One northbound lane is closed north of Horseshoe Bay, as it is a staging area for firefighters.

The cause of the fire is still unknown.

The Baden Powell trails, as well as the trails in and around Whyte Lake are closed. Police and fire crews are asking everyone to completely avoid the area.

A fire north of Agassiz has Highway 7 down to single lane alternating traffic. The flames were spotted yesterday afternoon. It’s believed the fire started from a vehicle, which had a flat tire.

Water bombers were fighting the fire yesterday and are expected back in the area today.

Man dies helping crews fighting fire in Nanaimo area

Meanwhile, a man has been killed helping in the efforts to battle a wildfire on Vancouver Island.

WorksafeBC says the employee of TimberWest didn’t actually die in the blaze. The agency isn’t getting into details, but says he was making a delivery to crews battling the Nanaimo Lakes fire Monday night.

His body was found in a pickup truck.

Over in northwestern B.C., the efforts to help out those evacuated from their homes because of a massive wildfire in that region are getting some help. Tanya Ball says the first cube van full of food, clothes and money has been driven south to Dease Lake.

“It was a really hard time out there because everyone was finding out who exactly had lost their houses… Everybody was coming together. It was amazing, the stuff that was put together.”

Dozens of homes have already been destroyed in nearby Telegraph Creek and there are fears the Alkali Lake fire could take out even more properties.

Wildfires contributing to haze over parts of the Lower Mainland

The wildfires are factors that have led to an air quality advisory that’s currently in effect for parts of Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. The advisory was issued yesterday due to high concentrations of ground-level ozone.

Conditions are expected to be toughest for kids and the elderly, as well as those with underlying health conditions.

Forests Minister Doug Donaldson says last year’s forest fire season may have been unprecedented, but there are more wildfires burning this summer, in more regions of the province.

“Major fires of concern include the Telgraph Creek wildfire in the northwest and the Snowy Mountain fire south of Keremeos. [The fires are] all the way from the U.S. border right up to almost the border with the panhandle of Alaska.”

Donaldson says there are more than 460 wildfires around the province right now.

– With files from Lasia Kretzel and the Canadian Press