Sayward RCMP are investigating wildfires on the northeast coast of Vancouver Island, believing they may have been started intentionally.

“Witnesses in the area of Browning Creek just prior to its discovery observed some quad riders nearby,” B.C. RCMP Staff-Seargant Kris Clark said in a statement.

“Police are looking to speak with anyone, including the riders, who have seen anything suspicious in the area of the Browning Creek fire, or any of the other fires.”

The fires began over a month ago outside of Sayward, with the largest covering roughly 230 hectares since its May 29 discovery, while the most recent, discovered Monday and located near Browning Creek, spans about two hectares.

Firefighters are combatting the fires with helicopters and ground crews. Crews also found and suppressed more roadside fires by the Memekay White River and Big Tree roads.

Clark told CHEK News he believes the fires are connected and described the fires as potentially fatal if anybody gets too close.

“The B.C Wildfire Service has rated the fire danger on the Island as mostly extreme with just a few pockets of high,” Clark said.

“The conditions are extreme, there’s potential here for a wildfire to get completely out of control and cause not only structure damage, but potentially endanger lives. So we want to get to the bottom of this quickly and stop these fires from occurring.”

Canada has been fighting blazing wildfires all summer, including in Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick, and Alberta. In the latter’s case, Premier Danielle Smith hired arson investigators to determine the causes of 175 wildfires with no known cause.

Alberta’s wildfires, which have displaced 38,000 residents, have come at a significant cost to the provincial government, which has earmarked $175 million for disaster recovery.


  • Neil Sharma

    Neil is a Toronto-based journalist. Before his most recent stint as STOREYS' senior reporter, he was a regular contributor for the Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, National Post, Vice, Canadian Real Estate Wealth, where he also served as editor-in-chief, and several other publications.