UPDATE: Highway 7 brush fire now spanning 100 hectares

Fire crews on scene

Highway 7 remains fully closed between Chowat Road and Johnson Slough as fire crews continue to battle a now 100-hectare brush and grass fire approximately four kilometres north of Seabird Island Road.

The fire is considered ‘out of control’ by BC Wildfire Service, who have helicopter and ground crews with heavy equipment battling the blaze as it burns uphill, west of Highway 7.

BC Wildfire tweeted Friday that firefighters are building control lines and helipads for improved access.

The fire started Wednesday morning and completely closed Highway 7 in both directions between Seabird Bluffs and Johnson Slough rest area Wednesday afternoon, but briefly re-opened to single-lane traffic that night.

The Agassiz Fire Department was dispatched Wednesday at 10:30 a.m.

“When the first trucks arrived they encountered a fast moving wildfire travelling up the mountain side into the forest,” deputy fire chief Gerald Basten told the Observer.

The blaze continued spreading due to the dry ground conditions and high temperatures – reaching approximately one hectare in size, 25 hectares by Thursday afternoon, 50 by Friday morning and 100 by Friday night.

In a media release, the Upper Fraser Valley Regional Detachment said the blaze appeared to start from a vehicle with a flat tire.

Agassiz, Popkum and Seabird Island fire departments were on scene, working with BC Wildfire bombers and four helicopters dumping water buckets and deterrent on the brush and grass fire.

An Agassiz firefighter reportedly suffered heat stroke while fighting the blaze and was transported to Chilliwack General Hospital while another was taken back to the fire hall to recover.

Seabird Island Band posted on Facebook at 5 p.m. Wednesday evening and stated there are no unforeseen dangers to Seabird residents at the time, but smoke was creating poor air conditions in the area.

Seabird Island Band Chief Administrative Officer Daryl McNeil pulled over on the side of Highway 7 Thursday night and saw a pretty dramatic scene. He can’t remember the last time there was a wildfire this close to the band.

“You could see red streaks from the bottom of the hill with some flare-ups. It was about three quarters of the way up the mountain with lots of hot spots,” he said.

But by Friday morning the hills north of Seabird Island were concealed by thick smoke.

McNeil said that for now, the main concern remains air quality.

“The smoke is most eminent for us right now, as well as local travel,” he said, adding that the band is advising the elderly people, children and anyone with breathing issues to stay inside.

Highway 1 is being recommended as an alternate route for motorists at this time.

Updates to come.

The eastern Fraser Valley is set to high risk on the air quality index, but is set to moderate by Saturday.

Emergency Management B.C. is urging caution as poor air quality can be harmful to the health of infants, young children, the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions.

Suggestions include:

  • Reduce the amount of time spent outdoors, stay hydrated and avoid rigorous outdoor activities.
  • When indoors, keep the air clean (windows/doors closed, no smoking, no burning fireplaces/candles/incense, no vacuuming).
  • Consider buying a commercially available HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter and creating a clean-air shelter in one room of your home.
  • In a vehicle, keep windows closed with air conditioning set to recirculate.
  • Visit places with air conditioning, such as shopping malls, community centres, swimming pools, public libraries, etc., as they often have cleaner, cooler air than smaller buildings or the outdoors.
  • People with asthma or other chronic illness should activate their personal care plans, and ensure they have an adequate supply of life-saving medication with them at all times.

With files from Ashley Wadhwani.

 

On Wednesday morning the blaze was only 1.5 hectares. The Agassiz fire crew called in help from Popkum, Seabird and the province to fight the grass and brush fire. (Nina Grossman/The Observer)

A grass fire off of Highway 7 has now closed the highway past Chowat Road.

Fire crews were on scene at the brush fire Wednesday morning, reportedly started by a vehicle with a flat tire.

The blaze was growing up and away from Highway 7, but crews shut down the road so they could have full access to the fire. (Nina Grossman/The Observer)

Just Posted

Chilliwack man urging drivers to follow rules of the road

‘People might think I’m stupid for doing this but it’s my life,’ says scooter operator

Multi-vehicle collision on highway in Chilliwack

Accident involves several vehicles, in the westbound lanes says Drive BC

Semi truck crashes into highway barrier cable near Chilliwack

Witnesses warning other drivers to watch for debris in other lanes

Agassiz bus driver’s seatbelt petition heads to Ottawa

Gary Lillico is hoping his one-month petition will make a mark on the House of Commons

Man dead after motorcycle crash in Hope, police watchdog says

Thursday’s crash is still being investigated by the IIO

Killer of Calgary mother, daughter gets no parole for 50 years

A jury found Edward Downey guilty last year in the deaths of Sara Baillie, 34, and five-year-old Taliyah Marsman

Raptors beat Bucks 120-102 to even series at 2-2

Lowry pours in 25 as Toronto moves within two games of NBA Finals

Body of missing snowmobiler recovered from Great Slave Lake

Police confirm the body is that of one of three missing snowmobilers

Toddler seriously injured after falling from Okanagan balcony

RCMP are investigating after a two-year-old boy fell from the balcony of an apartment in Kelowna

Fraser Valley chef sentenced to seven years for million-dollar drug operation

Raymon Ranu has been working as a cook since he was arrested for selling fentanyl and cocaine

Cost jumps 35% for Trans-Canada Highway widening in B.C.

Revelstoke-area stretch first awarded under new union deal

Is vegan food a human right? Ontario firefighter battling B.C. blaze argues it is

Adam Knauff says he had to go hungry some days because there was no vegan food

Winds helping in battle against fire threatening northern Alberta town

Nearly 5,000 people have cleared out of High Level and nearby First Nation

Most Read