Crews battle large fire in Burns Bog; BC Wildfire Service assisting
A fire in Burns Bog will take a week to be fully extinguished, predict officials in Delta.
The blaze, which began just before noon, is between 55 and 70 hectares as of 9 p.m. on Sunday. It is located on the far west side of the bog in an unforested area between 76th and 80th Streets, and was billowing smoke that could be seen and smelt throughout Metro Vancouver.
The wind was blowing to the east for several hours, but then began blowing north towards Highway 17 around 3 p.m., crossing Highway 17 and significantly escalating the danger to property in Tilbury Industrial Park.
“I was feeling a little better about it earlier today, but when the wind shifted, it took a lot of us by surprise. We’re doing everything that is humanly possible to fight this,” said Delta Mayor Lois Jackson.
The section of Highway 17 from Highway 99 to Nordel Way/Highway 91 connector has been closed to the general public, and will remain closed overnight. River Road is also closed from 62b Street in Ladner to Nordel Way/Highway 91 connector.
Tilbury Industrial park has been evacuated, and the Fraser River was closed to watercraft until 10 p.m. on Sunday. A perimeter has been established and no structures are directly threatened, but several buildings and cranberry farms are close to the flames.
“Certainly everyone is concerned about their businesses, but at this point we don’t believe there’s any threat to them,” said Delta Police Chief Neil Dubord.
“We’re lucky it was the weekend, so the evacuation was fairly easy at this point in time.”
WATCH: Nadia Stewart reports on the various closures in the area
Fire Chief Dan Copeland says there are approximately 100 firefighters from Delta, Metro Vancouver, and BC Wildfire Service fighting the fire. Five air tankers and four helicopters are also assisting.
“It’s very dangerous with the wind direction and the wind shifts. We also have to be aware of soft surfaces and soft ground,” he said.
There is no word on what might have sparked the blaze.
Burns Bog is an important ecological zone in Metro Vancouver, and is the largest peat bog around a developed area on the west coast of North America.
Donna McPherson, fire information officer for the Coastal Fire Centre, said fighting a fire in a bog can prove to be challenging. In 2005, a fire in Burns Bog that was 200 hectares in size burned for three days, and took eight days to extinguish.
“This can be a very difficult fire to put out in the long-term because of the peat,” she said.
“[In 2005] our crews had to meticulously go through it, actually going underneath the water surface for pockets where material was still on fire.”
WATCH: Delta Mayor Lois Jackson discusses the difficulties in fighting a fire in Burns Bog
The bog is an important migratory stopping point for birds, with over 175 different species making the area home at one point or another during the year.
The 3,000-hectare wilderness — eight times larger than Stanley Park — is also home to 300 types of plant species.
The fire broke out on the west side of the bog where several transmission and repeating towers for local radio stations are located. The AM730 traffic tower has already been destroyed, and the station confirmed that it has been knocked off the air.
One firefighter was also hospitalized due to a medical condition aggravated by the fire.
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