Canada

Stubborn fire continues in Vancouver area bog

A fire in an environmentally sensitive peat bog near Vancouver continues to burn. A huge column of smoke has drifted over the city causing concern for people with respiratory problems.

The Burns Bog fire in Delta, a suburb of Vancouver, B.C. continued to burn overnight, as a skeleton crew stayed to make sure it didn't flare up.

The battle for the bog was expected to shift from the air to the ground on Wednesday as firefighters use hoses and shovels to try to extinguish the stubborn blaze.

Smoke from the fire continued to hang over much of the Fraser Valley and Greater Vancouver.

Delta fire chief Gordon Freeborn was confident crews working the ground would gain the upper hand. He hoped crews would have the fire in a "mopup position" in about two weeks.

Officials estimate it's burned through about two square kilometres of the forested peat bog, although the actual area in flames is much less. While the bog is uninhabited, the areas to the north, south and east are home to hundreds of thousands of people in several municipalities. However, no homes are threatened by the fire.

A health advisory was issued for people with breathing problems.

Ken Stubbs of the Greater Vancouver Regional District said: "There's a slight elevation of particulate in the air in areas west of the fire. Those who are noticing some aggravation should contact their doctor or the health branch."

The Burns Bog is an environmentally sensitive wilderness area in Delta. "Burns Bog has long been considered the lungs of the Lower Mainland," explained B.C. Environment Minister Barry Penner.

"It helps contribute to good air quality most of the time. So we're working very hard with the associated agencies to make sure the fire is put out," said Penner.

When the bog caught fire in 1996, it took two days to extinguish. That fire destroyed almost two square kilometres of the wetland.

The ecologically sensitive bog is home to more than 200 species of migratory birds.

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