South Road closed for three hours due to brush fire
Traffic was diverted on Tuesday, Oct. 2 from South Road by way of Ferne Road and Coats Drive due to a brush fire which started around 11 a.m. just downhill from the Wharf Road and South Road intersection on Brickyard Hill. Crews from the Gabriola Volunteer Fire Department and Coastal Fire Service continued to search out hot spots left from the fire until just before 3 p.m. (Derek Kilbourn photo, more photos below)
The fire started when a BC Hydro line broke, sparking into the trees.
Crews from both North and South Hall were on scene quickly and followed the fire up the slope to keep the fire under control.
Fire Chief Rick Jackson called in a helicopter crew based out of the Coastal Fire Centre in Parksville to stand by in case it was needed to drop water.
Rapid-Attack crews with the helicopter unloaded at Brickyard Beach and came up the hill to aid Gabriola firefighters on the ground.
The fire was not in an area where homes were threatened, but covered an area roughly a half acre in size by the time it was brought under control.
Rick said on scene that the situation is one that keeps him up at night when the strong winds blow.
“If this had happened last night at 3 a.m. it could have been much worse. No one would have been going by it to call it in.”
Speaking at the regular Gabriola Fire Protection Improvement District Board meeting held on Wednesday night, Rick said the dry fire season looks like it will continue well into the fall.
“The fire Tuesday on the side of Brickyard Hill had the potential to be devastating. Had it happened eight hours earlier in the middle of the night it would have been uncontrollable by the time anyone noticed and paged us. Wind during the dry season is my biggest worry as it brings the high voltage wires down in easily ignitable fire fuels.”
He said this past August, he brought up the concerns with BC Hydro, specifically concerning the un-built section of Chichester Road.
“Had yesterday’s incident happened there we would have been way worse off due to the inability to access that corridor.”
Fire on Coast Road
Just a few hours after extinguishing the fire on Brickyard Hill, the department was paged to a small fire on Coast Road near Pages Marina on Tuesday night last week. Rick said it was a 4-foot square burn off the road in the trees.
“There was no obvious cause, which is a bit of a concern.”
Fire hall helipad denied by Transport Canada
In his report to the board, Rick said Transport Canada attended the Gabriola Health Care Clinic Heliport site recently.
“Because of the location of their site we will not be allowed to build one at the location we had planned and cleared for.
“The Transport Canada representative suggested all traffic use the clinic site, and I agreed.”
From this point on the Gabriola Volunteer Fire Department won’t be involved with any helicopter traffic, with the exception of setting up the directional landing lights at the clinic site when required.
Rick said the lights were inadvertently omitted from the clinic heliport design, but will be added.
Fire in Elder Cedar
The fire department had a call in September for a group of young people camping in Elder Cedar Park. The group had lit a campfire that went into the ground and required considerable digging to extinguish it. Fire signs will be installed at the Elder Cedar reserve.
Fireworks require dry spell to end
Rick reported that the annual Halloween fireworks are being ordered soon, but that he is looking for the current dry spell to end by Halloween, “or we will have to cancel the show.”
Photos from Brickyard Hill fire