Photo courtesy BC Wildfire Service
A fire burning since early Friday in the Department of National Defence lands west of Richmond Nature Park is now fully contained, but it will be several days yet before it’s fully extinguished.
“I expect it will probably be through to at least the end of the week,” City of Richmond spokesperson Ted Townsend said Monday morning.
The ground is largely peat soil and fire can burn quite deeply in peat, Townsend explained.
As a result, firefighters have to ensure all 12 hectares of the burned site is watered—“square foot by square foot throughout higher areas.”
Thirty firefighters from Richmond Fire Rescue as well as Vancouver, Delta and Port Moody were on scene Monday focusing on the ground attack. Fire investigators were also present at the fire, the cause of which remains unknown.
“It continues to be a very difficult situation,” Townsend said.
The temperature at the site is about 15 degrees higher than measured elsewhere. It reached about 30 Celsius in Richmond on Sunday.
The hot weather is expected to continue for the balance of the week. Townsend is urging residents to exercise extreme caution.
“It’s scary dry,” he said. “The risk of fire is high, possibly moving to extreme in the next few days and increasing the chances of other fires breaking out.”
Townsend said carelessly-discarded cigarette butts continue to be the No. 1 cause of fires.
“That type of irresponsible action puts everyone at risk. People need to get the message, but unfortunately that message isn’t getting through,” he said.
Fifty-five firefighters, including crews from the BC Wildlife Service—since reassigned to fight other fires around the province—battled the Richmond bog fire on Saturday.
“It’s definitely taxing resources and personnel,” Townsend said. “Obviously everyone knows the difficult and dangerous jobs these firefighters have, but to see this type of experience and the extra challenges on top of putting out the fire makes you have increasing admiration for them.”
Staying hydrated is an extreme challenge, as well as very tiring in heavily-forested terrain with uneven ground, Townsend said.
Crews from Richmond’s City Works Yard have also been assisting, setting up road blocks, helping to cut a path through dense brush to the fire, and supplying drinking water for the firefighters.
Shell Road continues to be closed between Alderbridge Way and Westminster Highway, and is likely to remain closed for the foreseeable future. Townsend said people are being asked to stay away from the area.