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Posted: August 22, 2022

Cummings Creek no longer a wildfire of note

BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) is gaining control of the wildfires of note in the East Kootenay, the number of which as of today drops to three as the Cummings Creek wildfire, five km west of Sparwood, is no longer considered a fire of note, though it is still out-of-control.

Additionally, the Connell Ridge wildfire, approximately 23 km south of Cranbrook is noted by BCWS as being held at 1,707 ha.

Discovered August 3, the Cummings Creek fire is still an estimated 52.6 ha.

“An infrared scanning team will be on site tonight scanning the south, east and north flanks of the fire perimeter for hot spots. Crews will be using the results of the scan to locate and extinguish hotspots.

“Based on observations made during the daily assessment of the fire, crews were back on site August 20 to action hot spots that popped up along the north flank of the fire,” BCWS reported today (August 22).

“Crews also completed planning and layout of contingency lines outside of the fire perimeter in the event that fire growth occurs back down towards the valley bottom. This is not currently anticipated to occur.

“Sprinkler systems and hoselay remain in place and prepped for use should fire activity increase and the need arise. A daily assessment of the fire will be conducted, and a remote camera is in place to monitor the fire.

A new lightning-caused fire is located in Telford Creek, 3.5 km from the Cummings Creek wildfire. Discovered August 21, the fire is an estimated .01 ha.

Heavy equipment starting their day on the Connell Ridge wildfire. BCWS photo

The Connell Ridge wildfire, discovered August 1, has 82 firefighters backed up by 12 helicopters and seven pieces of heavy equipment battling it today, along with 12 additional operational personnel assigned to this incident.

“In areas where the fire has already come to the guard, crews will be working on mop up operations.

“Today crews will continue extending the 25 foot blackline up to 50 feet in from the fires edge along the south flank and southeast corner for the fire. Continuing with mop up and extinguishment of hotspots along the line.

“Hose lay has started on the south of the fire and crews are working from were cutting hose trail along the west flank to support direct attack on the free burning fires edge.

“A fourth area had been identified for planned ignitions along the southwest ridge. However, after a test ignition was conducted on the morning of August 19th it was determined that the unburnt fuels would not burn in a way that contributes to the strengthening of the existing control line. Based on the test ignition results, crews will now focus on targeting hotspots for extinguishment instead. This will take more time as they are chasing individual spots as opposed to working one continuous line from the control line,” BCWS reported.

“The infrared scanning team was on site again last night scanning new areas of the fire perimeter. Crews will be using the results of the scan to locate and extinguish hotspots.

“Helicopters continue to provide bucketing support to the crews working on the southern portion of the fire throughout the day.”

The evacuation alert in place for the properties in the Mt. Connell area has been rescinded as of 16:30 on August 20, 2022. For further information regarding the rescind please visit the Regional District of East Kootenay website found here

An Area Restriction remains in effect for this incident in order to protect the public in areas where ongoing fire suppression activities are taking place.

The Mount Docking wildfire, approximately 27 kilometres east of the Village of Radium Hot Springs, remains out-of-control at an estimated 1,333 hectares.

Discovered July 30, the lightning-ignited fire today is being actioned by 42 firefighters and one helicopter.

“Observed fire behaviour has been primarily rank 1, which is a smouldering ground fire with a slow rate of spread. A decrease in the relative humidity and cooler temperatures have helped. For more information on fire rank click here,” BCWS said.

“Forecasted weather for today is calling for mostly cloudy conditions with sunny breaks. Scattered thunderstorm activity is expected for this afternoon, August 22. Sustained winds will be generally light however, gusty winds are always possible ahead of passing storm fronts.

This fire is burning in areas of steep, cliffy terrain, making direct attack challenging. Ground crews need a safe, defendable space to carry out suppression activities. This may mean that in order to ensure the safety of those working on the fireline, crews will be indirectly attacking the fire using ignition and other tactics when fire behaviour prevents them from working directly on the fire’s edge.

“When the fire was first discovered, two initial attack crews were onsite but had to be pulled out due to significant safety concerns. The fire was then updated to a modified response fire due to the inoperable terrain and safety risks to ground crews. As the fire moved into safely accessible ground for crews, suppression activities were able to resume.

“Bucketing or dropping retardant alone will very rarely create a fires edge. In steep terrain with heavy fuels like the Mount Docking fire, crews on the ground are needed to bolster the work being done by aircraft. When crews are unable to safely access a fire, the chances of bucketing having a negative effect significantly increases.

“The fire has now moved into areas where ground crews are able to directly work the fire’s edge. They are working on securing the east flank of the fire and have helicopter bucket support,” BCWS stated.

The BC Wildfire Service has implemented an Area Restriction Order for the vicinity of the Mount Docking wildfire. Failure to comply with restricted area requirements may result in a violation ticket of $1,150. This area restriction reflects the need to protect the public in areas where fire suppression activities are taking place.

BCWS and Alberta personnel discussing tactics on the Weasel Creek wild- fire. Aug 16. BCWS photo

The Weasel Creek wildfire, discovered August 4, 39 km southeast of Baynes Lake, remains out-of-control today at an estimated 1,190 ha on the B.C. side of the Canada/US border.

“A new camp, closer to the fire, is currently being set up. This will reduce drive time, allow crews and operational staff to work on the fire longer and minimize fatigue. This camp is remote and requires time and effort to get temporary services set up on site. This includes water access, septic, fuel, generator run power, communications (internet and cell service) and food. This camp is expected to be operational by end of day on Monday, August 22,” BCWS reported.

“Fire growth continues to move west up the Couldrey drainage. This is also the area of the fire with the most activity. Fire activity in this area is predominantly rank 2, low vigour surface fire with open flame and an unorganized flame front and small pockets of rank 3 with the occasional tree candling.

“Airtankers have been utilized to lay retardant lines along the northwest ridgeline above the area where the growth occurred. This helped support the crews as they worked to prevent the fire from spreading upslope in a northerly direction.

“Heavy equipment installed a bridge across the Couldrey Creek tributary to provide quicker ground access to the northwest flank where crews are working up the ridge line towards the retardant line. This bridge increases safety for the crews by creating quicker response time for First Aid access should it be required.

“The small scale planned aerial ignition operation was cancelled yesterday afternoon due to a storm system moving through the area that brought varying amounts of precipitation with it. This storm system also brought lightening to the area.

“Crews continue to focus in the Couldrey Creek area and are now advancing the 50ft black line up to 100 ft along the entire northeast and eastern flanks of the incident to prevent growth towards the Flathead Valley.

“Heavy equipment is maintaining good progress constructing the contingency lines previously identified by line locators ahead of the fire perimeter, from Burnam Creek to Dally Creek. Structure protection personnel are completing daily checks to ensure the existing structure protection systems are working properly should they be needed,” BCWS outlined.

BC Wildfire Service personnel will be assessing priority actions, objectives and values in advance of the expected fire growth in the Flathead area, and the structure protection specialist will be assessing the requirements for the area.

There are 79 firefighters backed up by 12 helicopters and 14 heavy machines today, along with two structure protection personnel and 12 additional operational personnel assigned to this wildfire.

Including the fire at Telford Creek, BCWS August 22 reports three new wildfires in the East Kootenay.

There is a lightning-ignited fire on Haller Road, about 3.6 km west of Cherry Lake, which is about 14 km south of the Connell Ridge wildfire. The fire is an estimated .3 ha.

There is another lightning-caused fire at Barkshanty Creek, about five km northwest of Moyie. The fire is tiny, noted by BCWS as being 0.00 ha.

There are also two new fires near Parson.

One is a .01 ha fire at Mallard Creek about six km northeast of Parson and the other, discovered August 20, is at Johnson’s Draw, which is three km northeast of the Mallard Creek fire.

The Johnson’s Draw fire is out-of-control at about .6 ha.

Two other out-of-control fires were ignited by lighting west and southwest of Parson on August 20.

There is a .1 ha fire at Summit Lake and a .5 ha fire at Azurite Mountain.

Lead image: Picture from a recce flight, taken on August 20 looking east from the west flank of Mount Docking wildfire. BCWS photo


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