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Dozens of firefighters battling out-of-control blaze near Sayward, B.C.

Fifty-five firefighters have descended on the northern Vancouver Island village of Sayward, where an out-of-control wildfire exploded in size Monday night, becoming the largest fire of the season for British Columbia's coastal region.

Three helicopters and multiple fire trucks were dispatched to the Newcastle Creek fire on Tuesday morning, with the possibility of a fourth helicopter joining suppression efforts by the afternoon.

There are currently no evacuation orders in place for Sayward, which lies approximately five kilometres east of the Newcastle Creek fire.

Julia Caranci, a spokesperson for B.C.'s Coastal Fire Centre, says the Newcastle Creek fire was first reported to officials around 1:30 p.m. Monday when it covered an area of 15 hectares.

High winds have fueled a sixfold increase in the fire's size, reaching 90 hectares by Monday night and into Tuesday.

The fire is believed to be human-caused.

"We are not recommending any sort of evacuation alert, however the town is being strongly impacted by smoke as are other parts of Vancouver Island," Caranci said in an interview Tuesday.

Smoky skies blanketed much of the Comox Valley on Tuesday morning. The air quality health index for Nanaimo, approximately 200 kilometres southeast of Sayward, was measured at 4 or "moderate risk" Tuesday morning, according to Environment Canada.

Sayward Mayor Mark Baker is urging anyone who encounters a forest fire – or who accidentally starts one – to alert authorities immediately to protect life and property.

"If you made a mistake and you started a small fire, instead of running and hiding because you think you're going to be in trouble, contact somebody so it doesn't grow to this size and put people's lives in jeopardy," Baker told CTV News. "That to me is the most upsetting thing."

Sayward Mayor Mark Baker is urging anyone who encounters a forest fire – or who accidentally starts one – to alert authorities immediately to protect life and property. (CTV News)

Fire officials are hopeful that attack crews will see a reprieve from the high winds and hot temperatures this week. "It should give us a good opportunity to continue to work the fire while conditions are favourable," Caranci said.

The Newcastle Creek fire is the largest fire this season for the Coastal Fire Centre, with the next largest fire measuring 38 hectares near Squamish, B.C. That fire is now considered under control, according to the B.C. Wildfire Service.

The provincial agency says there are 60 active wildfires in the province as of Tuesday morning, with 11 fires burning out of control. Top Stories


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