NANAIMO — The Nanaimo River Rd. fire remains out of control but fire officials believe it is moving in a “favourable” direction.
The Coastal Fire Centre’s Natasha Broznitsky said the most recent estimate from Tuesday morning pegged the size of the uncontained fire at 323-acres (131ha), which is the same size it was listed at late Monday. However, she said it’s too soon to declare the fire didn’t grow overnight as another size estimate later Tuesday could find growth in areas currently covered by smoke.
Despite back-to-back days of significant growth and a local state of emergency being declared, there is a glimmer of good news.
Broznitsky said the blaze is moving west-northwest, away from residences.
“It’s safe to say generally the fire moving that way is more favourable than it moving east. Certainly the majority of the areas we don’t want the fire to move into are to the east.”
An additional 20 personnel and one helicopter were added to the fire this morning, bringing the total to more than 50 firefighers on scene. Broznitsky said air tanker support may be used Tuesday for a second straight day.
Nanaimo River Rd. remains closed at the South Forks Rd. junction and people are urged to avoid the area.
Meanwhile, Regional District of Nanaimo board chair Bill Veenhof said it’s believed everybody obeyed evacuation orders issued late Monday for a large area west of the fire. There were no residences in that area but there were believed to be locations with people camping in the bush, particularly near Barsby Lake.
Veenhof said there is no change for the status of the 77 homes in the evacuation alert zone and no new alerts or orders are expected. He urged people living the in the alert zone to closely follow local media and the RDN’s website and social media accounts for the latest information.
“If there’s a wider evacuation it’s my expectation is as much as possible there would be people knocking on the doors of the homes that need to be evacuated just to make sure they know.”
If people are forced to evacuate the homes to the east of the fire Veenhof said an emergency reception centre would be set up in the South Wellington area.