Mt. Hicks fire threatens homes as it moves west

Agassiz crews monitor blaze around the clock

Heavy smoke across the Fraser Valley has been described as eery, unsettling and downright frightening.

But no where in the Valley is that more true than on the front line of the seemingly unstoppable Mt. Hicks wildfire. Burning 10 kilometres north of Agassiz, the fire is 35 per cent contained and less than 500 metres from a control line near Kamp Road.

The over 346-hectare wildfire has been burning for more than two weeks, and has become the largest single wildfire burning in the Coastal region.

The blaze made its way up steep terrain bordering Highway 7 after a spark from a trailer with a busted tire ignited the dry forest floor Aug. 8. Since then, the fire has done nothing but grow, reaching 150 hectares in seven days, and 318 hectares in 15.

On Sunday, westward outflow winds pushed the blaze closer to Kamp Road, where a small community of Kent farmers – with everything from dairy cows to hay fields – received hand-delivered evacuation alerts with directions to prepare for full evacuation, if the time comes.

Gene Chanasyk’s 50-acre Kamp Road property has been overrun with activity since early Wednesday morning.

As the northernmost home on the country road, his is the most vulnerable.

His rescue dog Jasper, stays close to his owner’s legs, sniffing suspiciously at newcomers.

“He’s getting used to all these people,” Chanasyk said, giving him a pat on the head.

Chanasyk leases his fields, but he still lives in the home he built himself in the early ’70s. He said this is the first time in 46 years of living on Kamp Road that he’s experienced a wildfire near his home, and he certainly never expected it to get so close.

“[The fire] was way over, one mountain range east of me and I thought well, ‘it’s still quite a ways away,’” he recalled. “But by golly, with the winds and everything else, pretty soon it was in a valley just east of me.”

A map of the area under evacuation alert in the District of Kent. (Facebook)

Surrounded by mountains, Chanasyk has watched the fire move in over the past few days.

“In about half a day it worked its way down the mountain, to the back of my farm,” he said.“You could see flare-ups all over the place and hear logs crashing, big trees coming down.”

“Little did I think in all these years that I would ever experience or witness something like that, but here it is.”

While BC Wildfire crews continue the battle from ground and air, with 45 firefighters and five helicopters on site, the Agassiz Fire Department (AFD), with assistance from Port Moody Fire Rescue and the Popkum Fire Department are soaking Kamp Road buildings and property lines with ‘sprinkler protection systems.’

Sprinklers wet the northernmost property on Kamp Road as residents remain on evacuation alert. (Nina Grossman/The Observer)

AFD chief Wayne Dyer said eastern outflow winds could still push the fire back towards where it started – but wind is hard to predict so AFD and Seabird Island Fire Department have around-the-clock strike teams monitoring the fire’s movement around a control line on the west flank. The line is treated with water, while brush on the forest floor is dug out to create an unpassable perimeter.

But it’s impossible to know how well that perimeter will work unless the fire breaches the line, and officials won’t take any chances.

If the flames breach the control line, Kamp Road will evacuate.

Chanasyk is prepared to go. He filled a motorhome with antiques and important documents and is storing it at a friend’s place on Seabird Island.

“I took all the important and very dear things out of my house, so I don’t have to worry about them…except for the house itself,” he said.

Even as his home for the past four decades is threatened by one of B.C’s 563 merciless wildfires, Chanasyk remains hopeful thanks to the local and B.C. fire crews working around the clock.

“These guys are something else, I owe them a great deal of gratitude,” he said. “They are wonderful guys. I’m sure they’ll do the job and I think because of them, I’ll be spared.”

Country roads don’t come equipped with fire hydrants. The Agassiz Fire Department fills blow-up pools of water to be used for a sprinkler system on a Kamp Road farm property. (Nina Grossman/TheObserver)

Read More: Evacuation alert issued for Kamp Road properties as Mount Hicks fire moves west

Read More: Residents prepare after evacuation alert

Read More: Wildfire update: Fires burning in Fraser Canyon, Highway 7 and Skagit Valley



nina.grossman@ahobserver.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

New ‘meowyoral’ race featuring felines announced by Chilliwack animal shelter

Organizers hope the cat election will generate attention for both the shelter and municipal election

VIDEO: Education Minister talks SOGI 123 and the Chilliwack school board election

He said people are making ‘noise about side issues but student safety is important’

Chilliwack athletes win provincial titles at Cultus Lake Triathlon

Close to 700 athletes competed in several distances, with action starting at Cultus Lake Park.

Chilliwack Chiefs add defenceman Alexander Marrocco

Marrocco is the younger brother of PJ Marrocco, a forward from last spring’s RBC Cup champions.

Rally in the Valley in Chilliwack to talk stewardship

It’s an event to connect interested locals with groups making a difference with species at risk

B.C. RCMP turn to Const. Scarecrow to shock speeders into slowing down

New addition will watch over drivers from a Coquitlam median for first-of-its-kind pilot in Canada

Possible shooting on Abbotsford street near Aldergrove

Witnesses report what sounded like 4 shots fired Tuesday evening, but that has not been confirmed

5 to start your day

B.C. parents sue after toddler dies in unlicensed daycare, vehicle explodes in Pitt Meadows and more

B.C. woman facing animal cruelty charges after emaciated dog seized

Kira, a Rottweiler, had kidney and bladder infections

Kim agrees to dismantle main nuke site if US takes steps too

Kim promised to accept international inspectors to monitor the closing of a key missile test site and launch pad and to visit Seoul soon.

Dozens speak at Vancouver hearing that could see duplexes replace single homes

The city clerk says 73 people signed up to speak at the hearing that began early Tuesday evening and adjourned hours later with 34 speakers still waiting.

North Carolina gov pleads with storm evacuees to be patient

The death toll rose to at least 37 in three states Tuesday, with 27 fatalities in North Carolina.

North and South Korea say they plan to bid for 2032 Olympics

Moon and Kim announced a sweeping set of agreements including a vow to work together to host the Summer Olympics in 2032.

Russia’s reinstatement after doping scandal goes to a vote

The World Anti-Doping Agency is due to vote Thursday Sept. 20, 2018, on possible reinstatement of Russia.

Most Read