Crews from Agassiz and Port Moody worked on structural protection of a Kamp Road home last week. The Mt. Hicks wildfire is now 70 per cent contained, but the evacuation alert for Kamp Road remains in place. (Nina Grossman/The Observer)

Crews make major progress on Mt.Hicks wildfire

A rainy, wet weekend may be behind Monday’s blue skies, but the moisture is only part of the reason the Mt. Hicks wildfire, located approximately 10 kilometres north of Agassiz, is now 70 per cent contained.

According to Lynn Orstad, fire information assistant at the Haig Fire Base, hard-working BC Wildfire and local crews from had the fire 60 per cent contained before the rain started falling.

“One of the key factors for us was that we had a lot of fire fighters on the ground – at one point up to 60 firefighters who were doing the hard grunt work,” she said. “This was a [fire] where you have a local jurisdiction and BC Wildfire service working hand in hand.”

While BC Wildfire crews fight the fire from land and sky, Agassiz and Seabird fire departments continue to monitor it’s movement from the west. Agassiz and Popkum departments have provided water tenders for a structural sprinkler protection system supplied by Port Moody Fire Rescue.

Read More: Rainfall isn’t enough to stop Mt. Hicks wildfire

But despite weekend progress, 30 per cent of the 422-hectare wildfire remains uncontained, and the work will continue once the fire is out.

“Already the wildfire service is looking at rehabilitation and will be looking at what we call ‘dangerous trees’”, Orstad explained. “So if a tree looks like it may topple then the fallers will take it down safely.”

And once the fire is out crews will have to assess damage, not just to the forest but to the culturally significant areas impacted.

“One of our key interests is also to protect culturally sensitive areas for Seabird Island…” Orstad said. “We don’t just go in and bucket, we make sure that if there are very sensitive cultural sites that those are protected as best we can protect them…we feel that is extremely important and these are things we will be looking at once the fire is completely out.”

The Mt.Hicks wildfire started Aug. 8, after a busted tire on a caravan trailer sparked the dry forest floor along Highway 7. The fire grew fairly quickly, but the biggest challenge wasn’t the heat, said Orstad.

“The biggest challenge that we faced with the Mt. Hicks fire was the fact that it was located on very steep and dangerous terrain for our crews. At one point they were having to use ropes to climb up to the fire,” she said. “That’s why it was taking a little bit longer to get it under control.”

As for the clearer, refreshing skies – we can thank the rain and wind for that.

“A lot of it is, to put it bluntly, mother nature. We contained the fire, but also the rain and the winds which have come down and the cooler temperatures have helped.”

“It’s a series of things and certainly the containment of [Mt.Hicks wildfire] has helped in the immediate local area.”

Agassiz and Seabird Island fire departments continue to closely monitor the fire’s movements and the sprinkler protection unit is still in place. Kamp Road remains under evacuation alert.

Read More: Air quality advisory cancelled as fresh air moves into Lower Mainland

Read More: Mt. Hicks fire threatens homes as it moves west

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