British Columbia

Firefighters respond to wildfire in West Vancouver near Cypress Falls Park

Firefighters in West Vancouver are responding to what they describe as a wildfire in the Caulfield neighbourhood on the lower slopes of Cypress Falls Park.

Smoke from fire in densely wooded neighbourhood is visible from Vancouver

A helicopter is seen responding to a wildfire on Cypress Mountain in West Vancouver near Horseshoe Bay on Oct. 14, 2022. (West Vancouver Fire & Rescue/Twitter)

Smoke could be seen across Vancouver as firefighters in West Vancouver responded Friday to a wildfire on the slopes of Cypress Falls Park, not far from the neighbourhood of Caulfeild.

West Vancouver fire duty chief Matt Furlot said crews responded Friday morning to the blaze in a heavily wooded area with many homes and businesses nearby.

The B.C. Wildfire Service said six helicopters, crews and an officer from the service are working to contain the fire.

The fire is burning east of Horseshoe Bay and is estimated at two hectares in size, but the fire department said it isn't growing.

"Trails in the vicinity are closed. Please stay away from the area until further notice,'' the department said on Twitter Friday.

Another newly ignited fire near Port Alberni on central Vancouver Island is 0.6 hectares in size. The wildfire service is reporting that it is suspected to be human-caused.

Port Alberni set a temperature record of 25.7 C on Thursday, breaking the old record of 22.8 C set in 1916.

Smoke from a wildfire in West Vancouver is seen from Bowen Island on Friday morning. (Jess Linzey/CBC)

Drought creating high risk of fire

Conditions across the Lower Mainland remain extremely dry, with less than 20 millimetres of rain recorded in the area since early July.

Drought conditions in the region are at the top of the 1-to-5 scale, which indicates economic impacts are almost certain to occur.

Powers said Friday's fire is the second in West Vancouver this week.

"Conditions are in a high-risk situation, and our crews are on high alert, and we're thankful for the public being on high alert as well," she said, referring to residents who called to report the fire.

Metrotown is pictured through smoke from Burnaby, B.C., on Friday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Further east, the eastern Fraser Valley and Similkameen areas are both under air quality advisories due to smoke from wildfires burning near Chilliwack, Hope, Harrison Lake and in Washington state. 

Chilliwack, Agassiz and Hope are particularly affected by hazy skies, but other parts of the regions could see smoke as well, Environment Canada said.

"Stagnant weather conditions are forecast to persist for at least the next few days, and it is expected that air quality may not change until there is a more significant change in the weather," the advisory said.

Temperature records were set in 21 communities around the province, some of them breaking records established more than 100 years ago.

The B.C. Wildfire Service dashboard shows an increase of 63 new fires since Oct. 7, nine of them since Wednesday. 

The service said this is five times higher than the average for this time of year. It said this trend would likely continue for as long as the drought persists.

It said that though more fires than usual have ignited this season, the area burned is "far below average.''

Current wildfires 'very manageable'

A total of 119,546 hectares have been scorched across B.C. since April 1, which amounts to 45 per cent of the 20-year average for this time of year, the service said. The area burned by mid-October in 2021 was 869,242 hectares.

"(These) drought conditions may very well have an impact on future wildfire seasons, however the size, severity and number of current wildfires is very manageable at present,'' the service said.

Another newly ignited fire, burning near Port Alberni on central Vancouver Island, is 0.6 hectares in size.

The wildfire service is reporting that the blaze near Port Alberni is suspected to be human-caused.

It said the majority of wildfires in B.C. are caused by lightning, but it is common to see "a relative change in wildfire causes in the spring and fall months toward human-caused wildfire as the amount of lightning decreases.''

The service said it would not be fair to assume the public has become complacent and the number of human-caused fires are still well below average this year. It said it is, however, maintaining widespread open burning prohibitions across the province while the drought persists.

With files from Jessica Cheung