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Crews contain Burns Bog fire, reopen highway following wildfire in Delta, B.C.

Last Updated Jul 6, 2016 at 2:00 pm PST

DELTA, B.C. – A busy highway running beside Burns Bog in Delta, B.C., was reopened on Wednesday as crews fully contained a wildfire in the unique peat bog.

Delta’s Emergency Operations Centre says traffic was moving again on Highway 17.

The route had been closed since Sunday when a wildfire broke out in the bog, scorching 78 hectares.

The blaze also threatened a nearby industrial park, prompting an evacuation that was rescinded Monday night.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation, but fire Chief Dan Copeland said earlier this week that weather was not considered a factor. It could be several weeks before the cause is determined, he said.

Officials had expected Highway 17 and several surrounding streets would remain closed until later this week, but they say quick response to the blaze helped reduce the length of the closure.

“These strategic closures were key in the quick containment of the fire and ensuring that the fire did not impact Tilbury Industrial Park (or) any other critical infrastructure,” Delta Mayor Lois Jackson says in a news release.

The release says Metro Vancouver’s scientific advisory panel has been contacted and officials in Delta are trying to arrange a site visit and a meeting to discuss the recovery of the environmentally sensitive bog.

Burns Bog was taken over as a conservation area between 2001 and 2004 by the municipality, the province, the federal government and Metro Vancouver, a regional government made up of local mayors, Jackson said. Delta is responsible for fire and maintaining the water table at the bog.

Most of Burns Bog is closed to the public, but an area of about 60 hectares called the Delta Nature Reserve is open for viewing.

Eliza Olson, founder of the Burns Bog Conservation Society, has said about 90 per cent of the peat bog is expected to regenerate in the coming years, but it could take a century before the entire area recovers.

Olson estimated the 30-square-kilometre nature reserve, which is a migratory route for a variety of birds, is believed to be the largest undeveloped urban wilderness area in North America.

The bog’s acidic, peat-forming ecosystem includes rare plants, such as cloudberries and velvet-leafed blueberries, along with two species of dragonflies among its diverse inspect species, Olson said.