As smoke billows over Falkland, putting residents on edge, crews are working overtime to battle the stubborn blaze.
The Bolean Lake fire, which was lightning-caused, is actually made up of two fires: an approximately 183-hectare blaze close to Chase Falkland Road and a 165-hectare on the plateau closer to Bolean Lake. It is burning just five kilometres northwest of Falkland and 22 kilometres southwest of Salmon Arm.
“What you see is only part of what we’re dealing with,” said Derek Williams, incident commander with B.C. Wildfire Service.
The evacuation order for Bolean Lake Lodge remains in effect, as well as an evacuation alert for 24 properties.
“The good news is that the lodge that is in the area is not threatened at this time,” said fire information officer Navi Saini.
Structural Protection Units are on scene but not yet needed for the Bolean Lake blaze.
Still, with the memory of the 2003 Whispering Pines wildfire devastation, residents are concerned. Therefore a community meeting is taking place at the Falkland Community Hall at 7 p.m. tonight
“Some people are a little scared,” said Falkland Fire Department deputy chief Neil Bourgh, as firefighters have been speaking to residents and trying to ease concerns.
“There’s obviously some anxiety in the community,” said Ryan Nitchie, information officer for the Shuswap Emergency Program. “Many of the residents who are on the evacuation alert have been moving horses and cattle just as a precautionary measure.”
Falkland director Rene Talbot says the biggest issue is not knowing.
“Some of the flames were 300, 400, 500 feet in the air and that’s what really worries people when they see that, because they don’t know,” said Talbot.
“People are a little worried and some of them are seniors and they don’t move very quick.”
Winds have proven difficult for crews and air support, as well as the steep terrain.
But crews have tirelessly been battling the fire since Monday morning, with a peak of 50 firefighters on scene Tuesday.
“That’s one level of the commitment we have invested in this lower portion of the fire,” said Williams. “It’s also a reflection of how we are trying to prioritize our resources and get the right amount of staff with everything else that is going on.”
In the Kamloops Fire Centre there have been more than 50 new fires sparked since Sunday evening, 43 of those caused by lightning.
“It seems every hour or so we are getting more interface fire,” said Saini. “Our initial attack crews are super busy right now.”
Hot and dry weather conditions have once again elevated the fire danger rating throughout the Kamloops Fire Centre and many areas are currently experiencing high to extreme ratings. This danger rating is expected to increase significantly over the next few days as the drying trend continues.
“These fires serve as a reminder that as lightning activity within the region increases, extra caution is needed to prevent person-caused wildfires,” said Kelsey Winter, fire information officer, as person-caused fires divert critical resources away from fires such as this.