The 78-hectare Burns Bog fire in Delta is now 100 per cent contained, and Highway 17 has reopened, Delta city officials said Wednesday morning.
While the fire fighting efforts have been scaled back, fire crews from Delta, Metro Vancouver and the province’s Wildfire Service team, will remain at the scene. It’s expected to be some time before the blaze is completely extinguished.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation and a scientific advisory panel has been called in to visit the site and provide guidance on directing the bog’s recovery.
Delta Mayor Lois Jackson acknowledged the inconvenience to the public and area businesses of the Highway 17 closure, but said it was a key strategic decision that helped in the rapid containment of the fire which threatened Tilbury Industrial Park.
Delta released a ground-level video showing the fire damage, including what appears to be a toppled tower, and the extinguishing efforts of firefighters.
“We started off with a rather small fire and suddenly the wind picked up,” Jackson said of the early moments of the blaze, which she acknowledged were scary.
Jackson said she doesn’t know who called in the fire, but said the early response was critical.
And while high winds helped the fire quickly spread, Mother Nature provided assistance to firefighters in the form of cooler temperatures, showers and heavy rain.
“It was a dangerous fire because it was so close to the industrial area,” she said.
The 2005 Burns Bog fire was much bigger, and occurred during a heatwave and when the bog was extremely dry.
Burns Bog has its caretakers, who play a critical role in the event of a fire, Jackson said.
“We’re really lucky that we’ve got a whole ridge in North Delta…that overlooks the bog. Our people in all those houses, they’ve got their eyes open.”
The city has worked with residents to let them know if they spot something, to call them immediately.
“It’s a pretty fabulous community to work together with.”
The investigation into the cause of the fire will be conducted by Delta Fire and the B.C. Wildlife Service.
Jackson took a helicopter tour of the site Monday afternoon, and said no fire retardent had spread to farm crops in the area. No air quality advisory will be issued, she said.
Three helicopters with buckets assisted the firefighting teams who are pushing the fire away from the Tilbury Industrial area.
River Road and other roads in the industrial area were reopened at midnight Sunday. The evacuation at Progress Way, between 76 Street and 80 Street, will be lifted at 8 p.m. Monday.
Highway 17 remains closed between Highway 91 and Highway 99, and is not expected to reopen this week.
Residents from across the Lower Mainland both saw and smelled the smoke coming from the fire burning in Delta’s Burns Bog nature reserve on Sunday evening.
The flames forced the evacuation of an industrial area and has drawn crews from all over the region.
The BC Wildfire Service dispatched 28 personnel, five helicopters and two types of air tankers to help local firefighters battle the blaze that broke out earlier east of about the 7700 block of Highway 17.
The flames grew quickly in a few hours, jumping Highway 17.
At around 4:15 p.m., local police announced all access to the Tilbury industrial park was closed, and that the area of Tilbury within the boundary of 76 Street to Webster Road, and River Road to Progress Way, was being evacuated.
The South Fraser Perimeter Road remains closed in both directions from Highway 99 to the Nordel connector. Boat traffic was also halted along the Fraser River to allow the air tankers to picked up water.
Fire information officer Donna MacPherson said the fire is a rank three, meaning that “everything is burning from the ground to about shoulder height.”
— BC Wildfire Service (@BCGovFireInfo) July 4, 2016
She added provincial crews will likely to be on hand for a few days as the peat bog is expected to burn for a while.
Fires in Burns Bog are notoriously difficult to extinguish because of the peat, and have been known to burn for days in the past.
Still no details yet on the cause.
The Corporation of Delta said the fire could hamper air quality, recommending residents check the Metro Vancouver air quality map.