British Columbia

Richmond fire challenging crews, likely to be a 'multi-day' event

Crews are continuing to battle a fire, with more than 20 personnel on site, that has been burning in Richmond since 5:30 a.m. Friday near the Richmond Nature Park by Highway 99.

Fire is near Richmond Nature Park by Highway 99

Smoke billows from a fire near Richmond Nature Park on Friday. (Yvette Brend/CBC)

Crews are continuing to battle a fire, with more than 20 personnel on site, that has been burning in Richmond since 5:30 a.m. Friday near the Richmond Nature Park by Highway 99.

"The fire is proving to be challenging to extinguish due to its location in heavily forested land, the hot weather temperatures and the need for extensive water to soak the peat soils in which the blaze is burning," said a statement from the City of Richmond.

As of 3 p.m., the fire was estimated to cover eight hectares.

"This is a technical fire and will likely be a multi-day event, with various road closures needed to provide space for equipment and hoses," said Fire Chief Tim Wilkinson.

"Those downwind will experience smoke and ash and I urge you to keep windows closed, HVAC systems running, and those vulnerable with health issues should stay indoors out of the smoke."

Road closures

Richmond Fire Rescue is receiving support from the B.C. Wildfire Service and the Department of National Defence both on the ground and from the air.

According to the City of Richmond, four fixed-winged airplanes provided by B.C. Wildfire Services have arrived and are dropping water on the fire.

The Department of National Defence has also provided over a dozen soldiers and a fire apparatus to assist in combating the blaze.

There a number of road closures in the area of the fire, which are expected to remain in place for some time. Westminster Highway is currently closed from No. 4 Road to No. 5 Road and Shell Road is closed from Westminster Highway to Alderbridge Way.

Other roads in the area are heavily congested due to the road closures, and motorists are advised to avoid the area and listen to traffic reports for further updates.

Difficult to access

Kevin Gray, deputy fire chief with Richmond Fire, said crews were alerted early Friday morning to smoke in the area, which is heavily forested and has peat bog deposits. 

"They couldn't find it because of the darkness. They had to cut their way into the bush," Gray said.

Gray says the fire is burning under the peat.  

Crews have been fighting the fire since 5:30 a.m. PT Friday. (Yvette Brend/CBC)

He said firefighters found a few tents — but no people — near the fire.

"We do have remnants of an encampment in there, so we're investigating that," he said.

Richmond Fire-Rescue Department at the scene of the fire, which has closed off part of Westminster Highway. (Yvette Brend/CBC)

With files from Yvette Brend

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