NANAIMO — BC Wildfire Service officials are anxiously watching as a changing weather pattern could impact efforts to battle the Nanaimo Lakes fire.
The fire remained largely unchanged over the last two days. It's holding at 440-acres (179 ha) and containment went up 5 per cent Friday to 30 per cent.
However, the cooler weather incoming is expected to bring with it windy conditions and possibly lightning.
The Wildfire Service says its managers are well informed of the weather and well prepared for the possibility the fire could change direction. The containment is on the southeast side of the fire, protecting the homes currently on evacuation alert.
So far the fire is holding well, despite the increasing winds.
The Regional District of Nanaimo says if anything changes in their evacuation alert for 77 homes they will immediately notify everyone impacted.
EARLIER (3 p.m. Aug. 9)
As BC Wildfire Service crews continue to get a grip on the Nanaimo Lakes fire, resources are are being stretched by an explosion of activity in the region.
Fire information officer Natasha Broznitsky said the Nanaimo Lakes fire held at roughly 440-acres (179 ha) overnight and is still 25 per cent contained. She said growth continues north and the eastern flank protecting homes is holding well.
On Thursday there were 55 firefighters, management staff, three helicopters and 18 pieces of heavy equipment working the scene.
While temperatures are expected to drop moving into the weekend, Broznitsky said there is some concern winds may increase. She said forecasters are looking specifically at the Nanaimo fire and crews are preparing for unfavourable wind directions.
Thursday's activities on the fire were described as "status quo" and crews were focusing on building containment lines.
Meanwhile, there are two other small fires within the Regional District of Nanaimo and six have been sparked in the region in the last two days. All are believed to be person-caused.
A small spot fire in Bowser is under control, while 20 firefighters are working a 25-acre blaze west of Cameron Lake near Lacy Lake.
The Maple Mountain scene near Crofton grew to roughly 12-acres and is considered out of control.
EARLIER (6 p.m. Aug. 8)
There's some positive news from the BC Wildfire Service as crews begin to get a grip on the wildfire burning west of Nanaimo.
Fire information officer Donna MacPherson told NanaimoNewsNOW the Nanaimo Lakes fire is 25 per cent contained as of late Wednesday afternoon, up from 10 per cent Wednesday morning. As well, she said the fire is moving north, away from homes, and the three other flanks of the blaze are "holding well."
"Crews are making great progress. They're securing the sides of the fire that are posing the larger risk to structures. The north side is being problematic because it is uphill and difficult ground to get into. They're working at it from both sides to pinch it off at the top."
MacPherson said the estimated size of the fire is up to 440-acres (179 ha), partly because of growth to the north and better tracking from crews on scene.
More personnel were sent to the scene Wednesday, with 64 personnel — 55 of them firefighters — seven helicopters and 18 pieces of heavy equipment. Ten firefighters will work the scene overnight and the same level of response seen Wednesday is expected Thursday.
MacPherson said there is some concern cooler weather coming on Friday could bring shifting and gustier winds, as well as lightning.
"We really need people to be more careful. We've had three human-caused fires since Sunday. As you can see from the growth it's dry out there, these fires are hard to keep small. We really need the public to pick up their game and work harder at keeping these fires from starting."
Meanwhile, the Regional District of Nanaimo said their evacuation alert for 77 homes east of the fire remains unchanged.
— with files from Ian Holmes
On Twitter: @domabassi
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