British Columbia

Crews still fighting to control 'stubborn' fire in Metro Vancouver regional park, officials say

A wildfire in Minnekhada Regional Park continues to pose challenges to firefighters, burning across almost 12 hectares of steep, rocky terrain that's difficult to access.

Brush fire has been burning in Minnekhada Regional Park since Saturday afternoon

A wildfire fighter with long blonde hair in a ponytail, dressed all in red, aims water spraying from a hose at smouldering woody debris. She's standing in a forest scene filled with smoke.
Crews from the B.C. Wildfire Service and Metro Vancouver Regional District were fighting to get a wildfire in Coquitlam's Minnekhada Regional Park under control on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. (Metro Vancouver Regional Parks/Facebook)

A regional park in Coquitlam, B.C., remains closed Monday as firefighters with the Metro Vancouver Regional District and the B.C. Wildfire Service continue to battle a brush fire that broke out Saturday afternoon.

Brant Arnold-Smith, director of the MVRD's emergency operations centre, said crews made some progress Sunday on the Minnekhada Regional Park fire — which is still listed as out of control — but are dealing with dry conditions and dangerous terrain.

"The fire is quite stubborn," he said on CBC's The Early Edition. "Due to steep terrain, rock cliffs, falling debris, falling tress, there's actually areas we cannot access."

Arnold-Smith says fire conditions in the Metro Vancouver region are "high to extreme" because the past few weeks have been particularly dry with very little rain.

The unseasonably warm and dry weather is expected to continue all week, so the MVRD is predicting the firefighting effort will last for several more days.

Staff with the MVRD and the wildfire service made an aerial assessment of the fire Monday, saying there was "minimal growth" overnight.

The regional district says the fire is spotty but is burning over an area estimated at nearly 12 hectares — around three times the size of B.C. Place Stadium — in the park's High Knoll area, a remote part of the park with no immediate water source.

Arnold-Smith said there were five helicopters and one airplane bucketing the fire from 7 a.m. to about 6:45 p.m. Sunday.

Air and ground crews were back in action as of 7 a.m. Monday and expect to be fighting the fire for another couple of days.

Plumes of smoke rise from a hilltop.
A helicopter flies over the Minnekhada Regional Park fire on Sunday. (MVRD Emergency Services/Twitter)

Pilots have been filling large bladders of water near the fire to support bucketing operations, using water from the nearby Pitt River and a hydrant at the Minnekhada Lodge, he said.

"We're seeing some good results from firefighting operations over the last 24 hours," Arnold-Smith said.

WATCH | Late season wildfire continues to burn in Metro Vancouver park

Crews fight wildfire in Coquitlam, B.C.

6 months ago
Duration 0:42
A wildfire has been burning in Minnekhada Regional Park since Saturday afternoon.

Smoke starting to dissipate

People living in the Coquitlam area should still be keeping their windows closed and using air filters in their home if they have them, he added — but air quality in the region shouldn't be as bad as it was on Sunday.

"[Sunday] we definitely saw some heavy smoke throughout the Lower Mainland and into the Fraser Valley ... [but] some of that smoke was pushed out by some light winds," Arnold-Smith said.

"We expect smoke to be in the area for the next 24 to 48 hours. But the fire behaviour this morning that I've seen, smoke is dissipating and we're not seeing that heavy smoke that we saw [Sunday]."

He said the thick smoke was the result of the fire was burning a lot of moss and ground brush.

According to the B.C. Wildfire Service, the fire is suspected to have been caused by human behaviour.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Josh Grant is a CBC News reporter based in Vancouver, British Columbia. He previously worked for CBC in Montreal and Quebec City and for the Nation magazine serving the Cree communities of Northern Quebec. You can reach him at josh.grant@cbc.ca.

With files from The Early Edition

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