Lightning triggers fires throughout south coast 

Coastal Fire Centre battling fires on Wedge Mountain, Mount Currie

A lightning storm moving through the south coast on Sunday is being blamed for at least 19 fires in the Coastal Fire Centre, which includes the Lower Mainland, Sea to Sky and Vancouver Island.

Within a few hours fire crews were battling most of the blazes by helicopter, air bombers, and ground crews and most were under control by late Monday morning. However, a few fires were listed as major events, according to Peter Goode, chief information officer for the Coastal Fire Centre.

The largest fire was on the southern flank of Wedge Mountain, and by noon on Monday it was roughly 12 hectares in size.

“There are no values threatened on that one now, the air tankers have completed their operations and one unit crew is en route to kind of mop up,” said Goode. “It’s more of a sustained action, with a 20 person crew.”

The fire on Mt. Currie was just 0.2 hectares on Monday, but it was a concern to the Coastal Fire Centre.

“That one is pretty inaccessible due to the terrain, we’ve been using helicopters with buckets and air tankers… and a rapid attack team is being dropped into the area to prevent the fire from spreading,” said Goode.

The other major fire, measuring 10 hectares, is at Salmon Inlet.

The Coastal Fire Centre responded to dozens of calls regarding lighting strikes, said Cooke. “The whole southwest saw a lot of lightning, so we’ve been checking out where some of the strikes occurred. Not every strike results in a fire, but the woods have been pretty dry recently,” he said.

The fire hazard rating varies from region to region recently, but overall Cooke says the rating is high for the entire Coast Zone. Whistler has been rated as extreme several times over the summer, and was rated as high when temperatures climbed into the mid-30s before the weekend.

Monday afternoon another lightning storm, with heavy rain, moved through the Whistler area. There are no reports yet of additional fires caused by Monday’s storm.

Other lightning storms were also reported in the Okanagan region, including a fire about 38 hectares in the Shea Lake area 40 km south of Merritt.

To date, 211 fires have been reported in the Coastal Fire Centre, 186 of which were person-caused.

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