BC Wildfire Service crews are using planned ignitions to control where wildfires are burning. (BC Wildfire Service/Twitter)

BC Wildfire Service crews are using planned ignitions to control where wildfires are burning. (BC Wildfire Service/Twitter)

B.C. wildfires: 55 blazes burning, 8 of particular concern

Steep, rocky terrain and hot, dry conditions posing challenges for crews

The number of active wildfires in B.C. has dropped slightly over the last day from 61 to 55, but the eight of particular concern continue to burn.

They’re classified by BC Wildfire Service as “fires of note,” meaning they are especially visible or pose a potential threat to the public. As of Tuesday (Aug. 9), all eight fires of note are burning in the southern parts of the province, with half in the Kamloops region and half in the southeast.

Together, the eight are feeding on about 15,454 hectares of ground.

Lightning is believed to be the cause of six of them, with only Nohomin Creek suspected to have been started by a person, and the cause of Keremeos Creek still unknown. The ratio reflects the larger picture in B.C., where 37 of the 55 active fires are lightning-caused, seven are person-caused and 11 are unknown.

Beyond the fires of note, 14 wildfires are considered as being held, another 14 are under control, 11 are out of control and eight are new.

There have been a total of 564 wildfires this year, with 58 started over the last week.

READ ALSO: Experts offer tips to stay safe amid wildfire smoke across B.C.

These are the eight fires of note:

Keremeos Creek

Estimated fire size: 6,836 hectares

Location: 21 kilometres southwest of Penticton

Discovered: July 29

Cause: Under investigation

The Penticton-area blaze grew another 1,000 hectares Monday, as crews continue with planned ignitions. The ignitions are used to eliminate available fuel (brush, trees, etc.) between where the fire is burning and control lines or barriers crews don’t want it to go beyond.

BC Wildfire says new control lines are holding well.

The Olalla Creek Forest Service Road is closed. Evacuation orders and alerts remain in place.

A total of 405 firefighters are fighting the blaze, with the assistance of 16 helicopters and 45 pieces of heavy equipment.

READ ALSO: BC Wildfire asks for patience as evacuation orders drag on for Keremeos Creek wildfire

Maria Creek

Estimated fire size: 1,004 hectares

Location: 6 kilometres northeast of Pavilion

Discovered: July 31

Cause: Lightning

The wildfire hasn’t seen any growth outside existing perimeters since Aug. 3, but continues to be worked on closely by crews. They’ve used heavy equipment to gain access to the fire and are now building containment lines by connecting roads and cut blocks.

Incoming hot, dry weather could cause an increase in fire behaviour, according to BC Wildfire.

Ninety-six firefighters are on scene, along with four helicopters and 5 pieces of heavy equipment.

Nohomin Creek

Estimated fire size: 3,745 hectares

Location: 1.7 kilometres northwest of Lytton

Discovered: July 14

Cause: Suspected human

Evacuation orders for the area have been rescinded, but fire activity continues in the Stein Valley Nlaka’pamux Heritage Park. Here, BC Wildfire says steep cliffs and rocky terrain have made it extremely difficult for crews to battle the blaze.

The fire’s south, northeast and east flanks remain stable.

It’s being co-managed by Lytton First Nation and BC Parks, with BC Wildfire Service providing support as needed.

READ ALSO: Unpredictable winds make wildfires an erratic adversary: experts

Watching Creek

Estimated fire size: 270 hectares

Location: 16 kilometres northwest of Kamloops

Discovered: July 29

Cause: Suspected lightning

The wildfire hasn’t seen any significant growth since Aug. 2, but incoming warm and dry conditions could increase fire activity.

Crews are continuing to fight the fire’s edges with water and by breaking down burning materials with hand tools. Helicopters are also onsite and bucketing water over the flames.

There is no current threat to any structures, according to BC Wildfire. Still, evacuation alerts remain in place and the Pass Lake recreation site is closed. Watching Creek Campground is also closed.

There are 78 firefighters on scene, along with five helicopters and two pieces of heavy equipment.

Briggs Creek

Estimated fire size: 1,679 hectares

Location: 11.5 kilometres west of Kaslo

Discovered: Aug. 1

Cause: Lightning

The fire hasn’t seen significant growth since Aug. 6 and continues to burn within containment lines.

As of Sunday, it is moving slow and keeping low to the ground in most areas, but BC Wildfire says incoming hot and dry conditions could cause an increase in intensity.

It is very visible to people in Kaslo, and may appear closer than it is to the town during evening hours.

Fourteen properties are under evacuation alert and BC Wildfire has issued an area restriction for the region.

There are 13 firefighters and one helicopter on scene.

Connell Ridge

Estimated fire size: 1,350 hectares

Location: 23 kilometres south of Cranbrook

Discovered: Aug. 1

Cause: Lightning

BC Wildfire says fire behaviour is increasing as temperatures rise and nearby communities are likely to experience smoke.

On Monday, crews finished constructing containment lines, allowing them to conduct controlled burns between the fire’s perimeter and those lines. Larger aerial burns could occur Wednesday, if conditions allow. BC Wildfire will notify surrounding communities before it occurs, as it will cause a significant amount of smoke.

The fire continues to actively burn within the established perimeter, but hasn’t grown in size for several days. BC Wildfire says this could change this week as temperatures increase, however.

An evacuation alert is in effect for six properties in the area, as is an area restriction.

There are 109 firefighters on scene, along with 11 helicopters and 29 pieces of heavy equipment.

Cummings Creek

Estimated fire size: 44 hectares

Location: 5 kilometres west of Sparwood

Discovered: Aug. 3

Cause: Lightning

Crews saw aggressive fire activity on the eastern flank for the second night in a row Monday. The difficult landscape and resulting smoke have made it largely unsafe for ground or air crews to work so far, according to BC Wildfire.

Tuesday though, crews are hoping smoke will clear enough for helicopter to drop water on the northern flank of the flames.

Residents of Sparwood will likely see an influx of firefighting equipment this week, as structure protection personnel begin assessing properties in the area. BC Wildfire says this is being done proactively, and that Sparwood is not under immediate threat.

Weasel Creek

Estimated fire size: 526 hectares

Location: 2 kilometres west of Frozen Lake and 39 kilometres southeast of Baynes Lake

Discovered: Aug. 4

Cause: Lightning

The fire was initially discovered in the United States on July 30 and spread into the Flathead Valley in Canada on Aug. 4. About 526 of the fire’s total 1,028 hectares are burning on B.C.’s side of the border, according to BC Wildfire.

A structure protection specialist is assessing the area and determining if any resources are needed.


@janeskrypnek
jane.skrypnek@blackpress.ca

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B.C. Wildfires 2022bc wildfiresBritish ColumbiaEmergency Preparedness

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