Helicopter, crews fight forest fire on Moresby Island

  • Jun. 3, 2011 8:00 p.m.

A helicopter dumped buckets of water on a forest fire on Moresby Island over two and a half days this week to help contain the spread. The 10-hectare fire burning in slash in a cut block 15 kilometres west of Moresby Camp was human-caused and is still under investigation, said fire information officer Donna MacPherson of the Coastal Fire Centre. She said the fire was reported at 6:30 pm on May 31 and a local forest company responded immediately with a helicopter. A tree planting crew in the area also went back to try and respond, but did not due to safety concerns. Ms MacPherson said the fire was initially very active, ranked 3 or 4 in their scale, meaning it was consuming ground and trees. She said the terrain is also very steep. The Coastal Fire Centre sent an initial attack team on June 1 made up of two officers and four crew who trained a team of 12 tree planters in fire fighting techniques to help put out the blaze. As of June 3, the team was cold trailing the quieted fire by feeling for heat and looking for smoky areas along the areas of slash. Ms MacPherson said when a hot or smoky area is found fire fighters dig in and break up, soak or bury the hot spot. She said they are hoping to cool the fire by Monday when winds are expected to pick up. They are also planning to do infrared scans on the fire to pick up deeper hot spots. She said the fire was never a threat to Moresby Camp or the road access to Moresby Camp. Besides being 15 kilometres away, she said many natural barriers such as rocky terrain and mountain tops would have kept the fire from threatening infrastructure.