A wildfire in Coombs stirred a lot of fear and a large reaction from emergency services, but was quickly contained Friday evening.
“Around 5 p.m. at the (Coombs Country Campground) lake we started to smell smoke and there was a small amount of ash in the air,” said Leon Davis from Nanaimo who was there camping with his family.
“At 5:30 we headed to our campsite and started to hear multiple fire trucks passing the campground. At about 6 p.m. a firetruck pulled into the campsite and drove down to the lake.”
He said they were told to be prepared to leave in 20 minutes so they started packing up as a helicopter started flying over the area. About 20 minutes later staff told them just to leave everything and evacuate.
“Having a toddler with us we decided we would just return home as we had fully packed,” he said, though the order was soon lifted.
“The fire covered about 1,200 feet by 75 feet along the tracks,” said Aaron Poirier, Chief of the Coombs-Hilliers Fire Department, lead agency for the response.
“There were 20 of my members along with members from Bow Horne Bay, Dashwood, Qualicum Beach, Parksville, Nanoose, Errington and a Ministry of Forests helicopter,” he said.
Highway 4A was closed for most of the evening to give crews space to work.
The cause is still unknown, but Poirier points out that despite the rain, conditions are still “extremely dangerous” and “people need to pay attention to their actions and the long-term consequences.”
He said in his 23 years with the department he’s never seen conditions like this and thanked the great response from neighbouring departments.