‘Aggressive’ human-caused wildfire near Harrison Lake grows to 800 hectares

Harrison Wildfire
An aggressive out-of-control wildfire in the Agassiz-Harrison is worsening the air quality in Metro Vancouver and in the Fraser Valley. BC Wildfire Service

First spotted on June 3rd, the Chehalis River wildfire has now ballooned to over 800 hectares, as it worsens the air quality across the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley.

The wildfire is located around 10 kilometres west of Harrison lake and just north of Chehalis Lake. The fire is now listed as a Wildfire of Note, according to the BC Wildfire Service (BCWS).

“This fire has experienced growth with active burning conditions over the last two days. Crews and staff are evaluating objectives and suppressing available perimeter,” reads a statement from the Coastal Fire Centre.

The fire’s new status means it is highly visible or poses a potential threat to public safety.

However, its growth and visibility have not led fire crews to recommend any evacuation orders or alerts at this time.

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Click to play video: 'Highway 4 remains closed due to Vancouver Island wildfire'
Highway 4 remains closed due to Vancouver Island wildfire

The BCWS provided an update Wednesday afternoon, saying the fire was growing away from populated areas in the Agassiz-Harrison area.

Another smaller wildfire is also burning nearby, west of the Chehalis River.

The Statiu Creek Wildfire is out-of-control and around 73 hectares in size.

The BCWS says this smaller fire is not responding to suppression efforts. Due to its proximity to populated areas, it says the fire is the highest priority for crews in the Fraser Valley.

However, no evacuation orders or alerts were issued as a result of the Statiu Creek Wildfire either.

Both fires continue to contribute to the poor air quality, which varies widely across the region as smoke, winds, temperatures and fire behavior change.

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The Metro Vancouver Regional District issued the air quality advisory Wednesday afternoon, warning of high concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ground-level ozone.

The advisory covers Metro Vancouver’s northeast and southeast, along with the central and eastern Fraser Valley.

“Two out-of-control wildfires burning near Harrison Lake are producing considerable smoke that is contributing to degraded air quality and hazy conditions,” the district said in the advisory.

You can see up to date air quality ratings for the Lower Mainland here.

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