A massive brush fire that burned between View Royal and Langford Tuesday night is believed to be human-caused.
“It’s still being investigated, but I can confidently say that this was either a mismanaged campfire, thrown cigarette or intentionally lit fire,” said Chief Paul Hurst, View Royal Fire Rescue. “This is a well-trafficked area with people coming and going. It’s disappointing, but it’s a reality.”
Significant resources poured in to help contain the blaze. Firefighters from View Royal, Langford, Colwood and Esquimalt were called to Mill Hill Regional Park just before 5 p.m. on July 21 for reports of a growing fire burning towards the summit. In total, 70 firefighters were on the ground. Provincial reinforcements included two medium helicopters from Parksville, one fixed air tanker from Abbotsford and two forestry attack crews from Cobble Hill.
Initially, the fire was within 200 metres of homes in View Royal’s Chilco neighbourhood. According to Hurst, air support was key to putting out the fire, as the location made it difficult to access from the ground and crews spent nearly an hour laying hoses to the scene. In total, the fire spread to approximately 1.5 hectares.
The majority of crews left the site by 11:30 p.m. Firefighters returned at 7 a.m. Wednesday, including members of B.C. Wildfire and CRD parks members.
Langford Fire Chief Chris Aubrey noted the fire was still burning at its centre Wednesday morning. Crews will continue to be on-site once the fire is completely out, hitting hotspots, and cleaning up for the next seven to 10 days.
View Royal Fire Rescue also received three separate emergency calls, two of which were fires, while battling the Mill Hill fire.
“It’s situations like these when our resources wear thin very quickly,” Hurst added. “We want the public to enjoy our green space and parks, but they have a responsibility to be vigilant and careful. It’s getting hotter and drier and the fact that someone was most likely being careless doesn’t help with an expected spike in wildfires in the coming weeks.”
Mill Hill Regional Park remains closed to the public as crews work to fully extinguish the fire.