British Columbia

Burns Bog fire closes Highway 17 south of Vancouver

Smoke from a bog fire burning south of Vancouver is drifting across the region, but officials say no air quality advisory has been issued.

'Fire will get underground in the peat and can pop up anywhere,' official says

About 80 firefighters are fighting the Burns Bog fire south of Vancouver on Monday. (CBC)

Smoke from a bog fire burning south of Vancouver is drifting across the region, and shut down a busy highway in Delta on Sunday afternoon.

Officials expect Highway 17 and nearby Progress Way to be closed for the rest of day on Monday because of smoke from the fire.

About 80 firefighters and three helicopters are fighting the stubborn fire, which is estimated to be about 70 hectares in size and is only about 10 per cent contained, said fire officials at a briefing on Monday morning.

Located southeast of Vancouver, the 30-square-kilometre nature reserve is one of North America's largest peat bogs. The danger is fire can get under the dry peat and burn out of sight.

"Fire will get underground in the peat and can pop up anywhere," said Jackson.

On Monday morning, smoke from the fire could be seen and smelled as far away as downtown Vancouver, but Delta Mayor Lois Jackson said no air quality advisory has been issued by Metro Vancouver.

Traffic on Highway 17 in Delta — also called the South Fraser Perimeter Road — is being diverted to Highway 99 and Highway 91 and about 25 businesses in the Tilbury industrial area are still under an evacuation order.

Fire officials said three helicopters will be used to fight the fire on Monday, but fixed-wing air tankers would remain on standby.

Fire broke out Sunday

The wildfire broke out just before noon on Sunday and quickly grew to over 50 hectares, despite the efforts of more than 100 firefighters from around the region and several air tankers.

An air tanker was used to help control the blaze burning in Burns Bog on Sunday. (Anita Bathe/CBC)

Smoke from the blaze eventually drifted across Highway 17, forcing police to evacuate the Tilbury industrial area in Delta.

That evacuation order was later scaled down on Sunday to only include about 25 businesses on Progress Way, between 76 and 80 streets. River Road was also closed but was later reopened.

Some sections of the the Fraser River were also closed to marine traffic so air tankers could scoop water, but those areas were reopened on Sunday night.

Bog fires difficult to put out

Officials have yet to say what might have caused the fire, but they have ruled out a lightning strike.

The public is not officially allowed into the bog, but Jackson expressed concerns people still may be going in.

Delta police have closed Highway 17 Monday morning because of the fire in Burns Bog. (Delta Police Department/Twitter)

"What we have to do is ensure people don't go in there," said Jackson. "The peat layer can be thick or thin. What we don't want to happen is to have someone go through the peat."

The geography of Burns Bog also presents a challenge for fire crews and officials are already predicting it could take up to a week to put out the fire.

Yesterday, one firefighter was taken to hospital, but officials said it was for medical reasons not specifically related to the fire.

In 2005, a fire in Burns Bog grew to more than two square kilometres and took more than a week to put out.

Google Maps: Burns Bog

 

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