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Posted: August 9, 2022

BCWS continues assaults on fires of note

BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) has launched a major assault on the Connell Ridge wildfire today (August 9), with 109 firefighters, 11 helicopters and 29 pieces of heavy equipment battling the estimated 1,350-hectare blaze.

BCWS now reports the fire is now 23 km south of Cranbrook, as opposed to 15 km as reported the past week.

Increased fire behaviour has been observed with the recent warmer temperatures and nearby communities can continue to expect smoke to be visible, BCWS outlined.

Yesterday crews and equipment completed the construction of the primary containment lines and crews will be using both aerial and ground ignitions to burn pockets of fuel between the fire perimeter and the constructed containment lines.

“A larger aerial ignition operation could occur as early as tomorrow if conditions allow,” BCWS said. “Operations staff have spent the last several days building a comprehensive plan that outlines the conditions that will provide a window of opportunity to initiate the planned ignition. As much advanced warning as possible will be provided to the surrounding communities, as there will be an increase in smoke visible.”

Crews and heavy equipment operators are continuing to construct additional guard lines around the perimeter in order to be prepared should the fire cross the completed containment lines.

An Evacuation Alert has been issued by the Regional District of East Kootenay in the vicinity of this fire. More information is available online: Click Here

An Area Restriction is in effect for this incident in order to protect the public in areas where ongoing fire suppression activities are taking place. Full information including a map of the affected area is available: Click Here

There are currently five unit crews, two initial attack crews, two Structure Protection Specialist, and an Incident Management Team and other operational and support staff supporting the response of this fire.

The Connell Ridge wildfire is one of three fires of note in the East Kootenay.

Another is the Cummings Creek wildfire, approximately five kilometres west of Sparwood. Ignited by lightning August 3, the fire is now an estimated 44.3 ha.

Aggressive fire behaviour was again witnessed overnight on the eastern flank of the fire, BCWS reported.

“The fire is continuing to burn in extremely steep, inoperable terrain where it is unsafe for crews or equipment to work on suppression operations or build containment lines. The access to the fire is limited, partly because of steep terrain and partly due to the smoky conditions that limit air access.

“Today, if smoke conditions allow, there is the potential for helicopter bucketing to occur on the northern flank of the fire, along Cummings Creek to provide some cooling effects to the fire behaviour today.”
BC Wildfire Service operations staff are observing the fire daily for ongoing data gathering and the Structure Protection Specialist has been working closely with the local fire departments and the Regional District to assess response efforts for the best chance of success.

“Residents of Sparwood may be seeing influx of fire apparatus, structure protection unit trailers and personnel today. Most of these individuals will be structure protection personnel that will be triaging and assessing properties in the Sparwood area. This work is being done in a proactive manner to establish adequate positioning if required. Currently the community of Sparwood is not imminently threatened, however we want to give our structure protection personnel ample amount of time to deploy structure protection apparatus in the event of the fire progressing closer to the community of Sparwood,” BCWS stated.

More fire apparatus is expected to arrive in the community of Sparwood tomorrow

A rank three fire. BCWS photo

And the third fire of note is the Weasel Creek wildfire burning in B.C. and Montana.

Discovered August 4, the lightning caused fire is now an estimated 1,241 ha, with about 648 ha burning on the Canadian side of the border.

“The fire crossed the Canada–United States border on the afternoon of August 4, and is currently burning into the Flathead Valley, two kilometres west of Frozen Lake and 39 kilometres southeast of Baynes Lake. The fire was initially discovered in the United States on July 30,” BCWS reported.

Jurisdictional collaboration is occurring between the Incident Management Team (IMT) in the United States located in Eureka and the BC Wildfire Service Incident Management Team in Canada located in Cranbrook. The two IMTs are closely coordinating on wildfire management and are sharing resources as required.

An area restriction has been added to the Weasel Creek fire today (Aug. 9).

The IMT on Connell Ridge wildfire is also working on the Weasel Creek wildfire and the Cummings Creek wildfire.

BCWS reports a new lightning-ignited fire at Mount Evans, about 10 km southwest of St. Mary Lake. Believed to be lightning caused, the fire is an estimated 33.4 ha.

The lightning-caused Gilnockie Provincial Park fire, discovered August 4, remains out-of-control at about 1.3 ha.

The Stair Lakes fire in St. Mary’s Alpine Provincial Park, started by lightning on July 31, remains out-of-control at 44 ha.

The Mount Nicholas fire, sparked by lightning on August 6, is out-of-control at 2.1 ha, roughly 14 km northeast of Top-of-the-World Provincial Park.

And the Mount Docking fire, ignited by lightning on July 30, remains out-of-control at about 19.9 ha. The fire is roughly 28 km east of Radium Hot Springs.

Lead image: View of the Connell Ridge wildfire from August 7. BCWS photo


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