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Posted: September 11, 2020

Ignitions planned for Doctor Creek Wildfire

The BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) announced this morning that it is preparing to conduct planned ignitions on the Doctor Creek wildfire to help gain containment on the southeast perimeter.

BCWS photo

The planned ignition will begin as early as 12 p.m (Friday, September 11), if site and weather conditions remain favourable. A column of smoke may be visible to surrounding communities during these operations.

Due to sustained local wind events and challenging terrain, such as steep slopes, ridges and rocky outcrops, planned ignitions have been the most effective containment tactic while also ensuring personnel safety, BCWS reported.

“Crews have completed a 600-metre-long and 10-metre-wide fuel free buffer zone in preparation for the planned ignition. The fuel free buffer zone ties into a heavy equipment control line on the east flank and a steep rocky avalanche chute to the south. The objective of the planned ignition is to remove unburned fuels between the fire perimeter and these pre-determined control lines.

“This tactic will bring the fire’s edge down to more easily accessible terrain where ground crews can safely deliver water directly to the fire’s edge. Increased helicopter support will be utilized throughout the day, including two Sikorsky heavy-lift S-61 helicopters, to reinforce control lines with fire retardant and water. Heavy equipment has completed contingency lines along the south and east flanks of the fire to further secure the area.”

BCWS continued: “Plastic Sphere Dispensers (PSD) and heli-torches will be used for aerial ignitions.  Most of the ignitions will be completed by PSDs that are mounted to a helicopter and accurately deploy golf-ball sized plastic spheres onto the landscape. Through a chemical reaction, the spheres ignite shortly after they reach the forest floor. This technique allows fire management personnel to accurately and gently ignite the forest floor where fuels can carry the fire back towards itself. Crews will then use hand ignitions to clean up the fire’s edge once the fire is brought down to these pre-determined boundaries.”

As of this morning the fire, located 25 km southwest of Canal Flats, is 7,937 hectares.

Today there are 162 firefighters, seven helicopters and eight pieces of heavy equipment attacking the still out-of-control fire, B.C.’s largest.

Aside from the long-lingering but under control Stirton Road fire near Marysville, BCWS reports no other fires in the East Kootenay today.

To report a wildfire, unattended campfire or open burning violation, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cell phone. For up-to-date information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, call 1 888 3-FOREST or visit: www.bcwildfire.ca.

Lead image: A firefighter uses a drip torch during an August 27 planned ignition on Doctor Creek wildfire, discovered August 18.. BCWS photo


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