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Cool weather calms out of control wildfire north of Vancouver, but traffic still disrupted

Last Updated Jun 24, 2019 at 10:42 am PDT

FILE - A large cloud of smoke climbed from from a wildfire on the Sea to Sky in June of 2019. (Source: DNV Fire Rescue Services, Twitter)

Calm winds and cool, wet conditions have kept a wildfire burning north of Horseshoe Bay from growing

A three-hectare wildfire is still burning out of control on the Sea to Sky Highway

VANCOUVER – A small wildfire is burning just above the highway connecting Vancouver and Whistler.

The fire along Highway 99, the Sea-to-Sky corridor, broke out early Sunday morning on a steep, rocky slope between Horseshoe Bay and Lions Bay.

“There was no growth in the fire overnight and it’s cooler with higher moisture levels in the air which does help fire behaviour,” Fire Information Officer Donna MacPherson with the Coastal Fire Centre said.

The BC Wildfire Service has the blaze listed as out of control, but MacPherson adds the estimated size is still sitting at around three hectares.

“The fire isn’t producing open flame at this time, it will periodically smoke especially as temperatures warm,” she explained. “The estimated three hectares in size is very loose — our crews are looking down through very heavy timber at a ground fire, so trying to establish where the exact edges of the fire are difficult.”

MacPherson said no one has been able to walk around the fire with a GPS unit yet, which is how estimated sizes are determined.

“We are hoping to get a better understanding of it with a hand scan or an aircraft scan later on [Monday], but right now we’re calling it three hectares in size,” she said. “When you’re looking down through the trees, it’s really hard to know when you’re looking at smoke whether that’s drift smoke or whether that’s actually the edge of the fire.”

She notes aerial scans can be done, but admits such methods aren’t as reliable “as the guy on the ground.”

Three helicopters and 27 firefighters have been assigned to fight the fire, but no homes or properties are currently threatened.

A cause has not been determined although a downed power line is suspected.

DriveBC says the northbound lanes of Highway 99 remain closed just north of Horseshoe Bay because firefighting equipment is on the road.