A forest fire near the border of Saanich and Central Saanich saw three separate fire crews work together to knock down the Saturday morning blaze.
Around 7 a.m., the Saanich Fire Department responded to a fire near Durrance Lake, heading up Willis Point Road while watching smoke in the distance.
“The call came in from an overhead commercial aircraft,” said Deputy Fire Chief Steve Hanna. “I think it was a WestJet flight that was flying overhead, saw smoke and called it in.
“It was right on the edge of Heals Range, which is a Department of National Defence property.”
Hanna said firefighters had difficulty getting access to the fire for their trucks, so they called the DND, who sent military police to help them get closer to the flames.
“Durrance Road is a rural road and it’s hard to get through, and there’s a gate across it for safety reasons when people are shooting on the range,” said Hanna. “We didn’t have access to that gate, but with the permission of the DND, break through the gate and get access close to the fire.”
Adding to the challenging blaze was the fact that there are no fire hydrants in the area. Hanna said firefighters set up a tanker shuttle operation to get water to the fire, which was about 200 by 200 feet at its largest.
“We had our tanker, we called in Central Saanich for assistance with their tanker, DND sent their tanker out, so we had three tanker trucks shuttling water back and forth,” he said, noting B.C. forest firefighters also assisted.
Saanich fire stayed on scene until about 11:30 a.m., after which the DND’s fire crew remained at the site into the evening. While the cause of the fire hasn’t been determined, Hanna said the area may have been used as a campsite prior to the blaze.
“It was very deep seated fire and my suspicion is it was not intentionally set, but there might’ve been some people camping there,” he said. “We were lucky because while it was a warm day, it wasn’t a windy day, so it spread slowly.”
Fire crews are reminding residents to be mindful when in forested areas, especially in the summer when it’s dry.
“If you’re going to smoke, be very careful of how you dispose of your butts,” said Hanna. “People have to be aware, and if they see anything that looks like a fire, be sure to phone it in.”
Hanna also commended the teamwork of the Central Saanich and DND firefighters in getting the fire under control.
“Working together with three different agencies on one fire, we worked seamlessly,” he said. “If it wasn’t for each of us, we probably wouldn’t have had a successful outcome. It was a good joining of resources.”