UPDATE: Chilliwack River Valley fire now 95 per cent contained

City and provincial fire crews battle a 17-hectare forest fire in the Chilliwack River Valley in record heat.

Fire crews were back at it Saturday, battling a forest fire that is now estimated at 17.2 hectares in the Chilliwack River Valley.

Smoke from the fire – located near Bench Road and the Chilliwack Army Forest Service Road – can be seen from Chilliwack.

Four helicopters have been dispatched to attack the fire from the air, while ground crews are also on scene.

Chilliwack firefighters are also in the fight, blending resources and experience. “This is a unified effort,” said the City of Chilliwack in an update on its website.

By 3 p.m. Saturday, the city said the fire was 35 per cent contained; by 8 p.m it was 95 per cent contained.

The roads in the area are closed and the public is being told to stay clear of the area.

The public is also being told to keep clear of the Allison Pools area on the Chilliwack River where helicopters are drawing water to fight the fire

There are no homes in the immediate vicinity of the fire. However, homeowners a few kilometres away are watching anxiously as helicopters thump overhead.

“It’s 3km from us and if the wind heads west it will be coming our way,” wrote Brad Moseanko on the Chilliwack Progress Facebook page.

The fire comes as temperatures soar in Chilliwack.

Friday was another record breaker, with the daytime high reaching 36 degrees, shattering the old Aug. 19 mark set in 1915 by nearly four degrees.

Thursday’s high of 35.8 degrees was the hottest Aug. 18 on record, said Roger Pannett, volunteer weather observer for Environment Canada. The previous high of 33.3 degrees was set in 1965.

It’s also been dry, Pannett said. Only 1.2 mm of rain has fallen since July 23. The humidity on Thursday, meanwhile, was just 12 per cent.

Temperatures are expected to ease on Sunday and Monday, but gusting winds are also expected Sunday.

Chilliwack returns to the plus-30 weather on Wednesday, with no rain forecast for the next two weeks.

Hot, dry conditions have prompted a campfire ban starting last week throughout the region.

Watch for more at www.theprogress.com.

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