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Zeballos wildfire “not an immediate threat”, still burning

ZEBALLOS, B.C- A pair of wildfires around Zeballos are still burning this morning.

According to the Natasha Broznitsky, an information officer with the Coastal Fire Centre, the Gold Valley Main fire next to the village is still estimated at 29 hectares in size, burning out of control. A containment figure for the fire is not available.

A total of 12 firefighters from the wildfire service are in the village, with one helicopter in use.

While the fire is still deemed out of control, Broznitsky said that didn’t mean it was a “raging, candling’ fire.

“It just means that our crews have not been able to establish containment lines around the fire due to the fact that the fire is burning in steep and challenging terrain, most of which is not safe for our crews to be on,” said Broznitsky.

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The evacuation alert issued for the village’s east side remains in effect, but has not turned into an evacuation order.

“At this point, the fire is not an immediate threat to the community, but is slowly backing down the steep slope,” said Broznitsky.

“That’s why the alert is in place.”

Zeballos resident Ernest Smith, who has been helping firefighting efforts in the area, told that the fire has reached the top of the mountain today, as well as burning down towards the road away from the village site.

Smith said that the local fire department and members from the Port McNeil fire department were involved in spraying down the sides of the road, though the wildfire service has since ordered them away.

“It’s moved up the mountain now, but on the furthest side away from the village it’s closer to the road,” said Smith.

“We’re hoping it doesn’t spread anymore.”

He said that local firefighters will be ready to spray down structures “when needed” as well as greenery as necessary. He also hoped the helicopter would re-start water dropping.

As for the Pinder Creek fire, burning north of the community over the forest service road that serves as the only route in and out, Broznitsky said it had grown to 105 hectares. It is still considered to be burning out of control.

17 firefighters from the wildfire service are on the ground, with one piece of heavy equipment and one helicopter. It is 10 per cent contained, and the road remains open.

Broznitsky said keeping the road open is a high priority for fire crews.

“On roads like the Zabellos Forest Service Road, a few things can cause road closures,” said Broznitsky.

“One of them is if the fire is crossing over the road, and posing risks to traffic. Sometimes these closures can be not that long lived. The other reason to close a road like this would be to help facilitate aircraft working in the area, to make sure traffic stays safe. Our priority is to keep the road open.”

No rain is in the forecast for the foreseeable future, and Broznitsky asked the public to keep assisting the wildfire service by preventing human-caused wildfires.

A community dinner has been scheduled in Zeballos for residents to get more information.

IMAGE CAPTION: The fire in Zeballos is pictured on August 17th. Photo courtesy of Ernest Smith.

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