Trio of wildfires remain concern in region
There are now three wildfires larger than 1,000 ha in size in the East Kootenay. They include the Island Pond fire (estimated at 1,150 ha), White River fire, which has exploded to 1,226 ha since yesterday and the Verdant Creek fire in Kootenay National Park and Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, now at an estimated 11,000 ha.
The growth of that fire has forced the closures of Highway 93 through Kootenay National Park as well as the evacuation of Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park and Sunshine Village, again. The fire in now encroaching into the Vermilion Valley.
The closure of the highway is already having an impact on Radium Hot Springs’ tourism industry, with hotel and motel room cancellations taking place before the August long weekend.
That said, the highway is now open – as of August 2 – according to DriveBC.
Smoke from the fire is affecting visibility and further closures may be required without notice depending on fire behaviour, especially late afternoon and overnight. Drivers are advised to expect reduced speeds and possible delays. Travel between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. MST is recommended.
Twelve km south of Canal Flats, crews, gaining size everyday, are gaining a hold of the Island Pond fire. The BCWS reports the fire is now 25% contained.
“This fire held on the south flank over night during the period of increased winds. Crews are taking advantage of the wind shift today and are building additional guard. Fire suppression efforts will be supported by helicopters, air tankers, skimmers and heavy equipment today,” BCWS reported.
There are now 64 firefighters on scene, backed up by three helicopters and five pieces of heavy equipment.
An evacuation alert remains in effect for about 55 properties. For information regarding this evacuation alert or call 250-426-2188.
As for the White River fire, located about 40 km east of Fairmont Hot Springs, it remains uncontained and has grown to an estimated 1,226 ha overnight.
“This fire is not currently affecting any communities or structures. The fire is producing large amounts of smoke that might be visible in the region from Radium and Canal Flats and as far east as Alberta,” BCWS reported.
Public access to the White-Middle Fork Forest Service Road is also still prohibited at the 45.5 kilometre point. The Lands Manager of the Rocky Mountain Natural Resource District ordered the road closure due to concerns about public safety.
A new fire was discovered yesterday at the Mitchell Road rest stop off Highway 95, about 250 metres north of McMurdo Road, about 25 km south of Golden. The fire is listed as being .01 ha in size by the BCWS.
Other fires of note include the Ward-Bloom fire south of Cranbrook near the US border, which is still listed at 39 ha. That fire is believed to be human caused.
And there is a 400 ha fire burning in Glacier Creek that is receiving a modified response from BCWS crews. That lightning-caused fire, discovered July 10, is about six km northwest of Johnson’s Landing and about 14 km west of the Jumbo Creek drainage.
Lead image: The White River fire, taken a couple of days ago. BCWS photo