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Vancouver Island wildfire expected to continue for 'several days' as highway remains closed

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Wildfire officials are sending an additional 20 firefighters to help battle an out-of-control blaze that has burned more than two square kilometres of forest and cut off a major highway on Vancouver Island.

The additional crews will join more than 60 firefighting personnel already on the ground at the Cameron Bluffs wildfire east of Port Alberni.

Several air tankers, firefighting helicopters and other pieces of heavy equipment continue to battle the blaze, which has grown to 208 hectares since it was first reported Sunday.

Light rain proved favourable for fire crews on Friday morning, however efforts to get the fire under control are far from over.

"We'll still be working this fire for the next several days," Bryce Moreira, incident commander for the Cameron Bluffs fire, told reporters Friday.

He said crews have been working to safeguard the nearby ancient forest of Cathedral Grove on the fire's western flank while aerial bombers attack the eastern flank as weather conditions permit.

Much of the fire's growth over the past few days has been in the rugged, mountainous terrain on the fire's southern edge, Moreira added.

WILDFIRE DETOUR CLOSED

The wildfire, which is believed to be human-caused, forced the province to close Highway 4 on Wednesday, cutting off the only highway connecting the communities of Port Alberni, Tofino and Ucluelet with the rest of B.C.

A four-hour detour route around the fire has been established, however the detour was scheduled to close for most of the day Friday while workers attempted to retrieve a vehicle that had rolled off the treacherous gravel road and into Francis Lake.

"There are no dangers to life, structures or critical infrastructure with the Cameron Bluffs fire at this time," Kimberly Kelly, a fire information officer with the B.C. Wildfire Service, said.

"This fire is adequately resourced and is a high priority provincially" due to the highway closure and the fire's proximity to Cathedral Grove, she added.

The provincial wildfire service says the blaze is among 82 active wildfires in the province, with 29 wildfires considered out of control.

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