Three weeks later, Minnekhada fire still burning

This photo was snapped one day after a small brush fire spread across the regional park. photo supplied Timo Juurakko, Tri-City Photography Club

Despite cooler temperatures and some recent rainfall, the flames at Minnekhada haven’t been extinguished just yet.

“We don’t consider the fire out,” explained. Metro Vancouver director of Regional Parks Mike Redpath on Monday afternoon.

It would likely take about 50 millimetres of rain to extinguish the blaze that started as a small brushfire on Oct. 1.

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“We’re really looking forward to this rain,” Redpath added, noting that heavy precipitation is expected later this week.

Crews are patrolling the area and dousing hot spots as they find them, Redpath said.

The fire seems to lurk in the park’s more treacherous terrain, Redpath explained.

“It’s those steep and challenging areas right now where some of the hot spots are,” he said. “We want to make sure the park is very safe before we reopen it.”

The challenges of reopening

Metro Vancouver is planning a “significant assessment” of the park’s trees and trails prior to reopening

“A particular concern is trees that have been impacted,” Redpath said.

Besides having an arborist examine the trees, an archaeological assessment is also planned, according to Redpath.

“We don’t have a date for a how long our assessment will take,” he said. “I expect the process to take some time.”

Started small

On Oct. 1, a small brushfire broke out amid tinder-dry conditions in Minnekhada Regional Park.

As flaming debris streaked down the cliffside and ignited brush, the fire swelled into a 12-hectare blaze by Oct. 2.

Fifty firefighters struggled to control the fire as falling debris tumbled from steep cliffs, explained Metro Vancouver spokesman Brant Arnold-Smith.

“We’ve had to really rely on the fire coming to us because it’s unsafe for crews to get in,” Arnold-Smith explained at the time.

photo supplied Metro Vancouver

Crews on the ground were assisted by helicopters ferrying buckets of water from Pitt River and dumping them on the blaze.

The fire eventually grew to 14 hectares before crews managed to create a wet line around the perimeter of the then-controlled blaze.

The recovery ahead

There are trees that will need to be planted, vegetation to be added and an entire ecosystem that will need a chance to recovery.

To assist with that effort, the Minnekhada Recovery Fund is currently accepting – and matching – donations up to $10,000.

The project is a collaboration between the Minnekhada Park Association and the Metro Vancouver Regional Parks Foundation. To learn more or to donate, click here.

Before the fire

Populated by wood ducks, beavers, bears, cougars, and hikers, the park typically gets more than 200,000 visitors each year, according to Metro Vancouver.

The name Minnekhada is taken from Sioux and roughly translates as rattling water.

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