The Crofton fire department was called out to Maple Mountain after an excavator caught fire on Wednesday afternoon. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

All wood harvesting stopped in hot, dry North Cowichan forest reserve

Statement said the decision has nothing to do with the excavator fire on Maple Mountain on July 24

Given the current hot and dry conditions, North Cowichan is shutting down all wood harvesting activities in its municipal forest reserve at the end of the day today (Friday, July 26).

A statement from the municipality said North Cowichan has been monitoring the fire hazard ratings and weather conditions diligently during the blowdown salvage activities in the forest reserve and made the decision to stop operations on July 25.

The halt in operations will continue until the fall, with the exception of some trucking of roadside wood next week.

RELATED: Slow start to B.C. wildfire season saves province money

The statement said the decision has nothing to do with the excavator fire on Maple Mountain on July 24 that saw volunteer firefighters from Crofton and Maple Bay halls racing to the mountain around noon.

Crews were met at the gate at the bottom of Maple Mountain Park Road and guided up the M100 trail and then left onto a bumpy side trail to find a fully involved excavator fire.

The flames had spread into nearby foliage.

RELATED: Firefighters putting out hotspots at suspected human-caused wildfire near Sayward

It was a tricky situation for firefighters to juggle their water tenders on the narrow trails but they quickly got foam and water onto the flames.

The statement said the fire was completely extinguished within 30 minutes, and the excavator, which was cleaning up blowdown and debris along the roadside on the mountain, is being monitored to ensure there are no further flare ups.

The fire is still under investigation.

“The decision to halt operations was not due to this equipment fire,” the statement said.

“Although it is generally uncommon, events such as this do occur from time to time, and contractors are required to have fire suppression equipment on site to contain any fires until the fire department arrives, which occurred yesterday.”

Maple Mountain was the site of a major forest fire in August 2018. Seven fire departments and the BC Wildfire Service battled the 2018 blaze, and residents of the area were put on evacuation alert for three days.

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