Crews took advantage of favourable winds on Aug. 6 to successfully complete a 300 hectare planned ignition along the northeast flank of the Thomas Creek fire. (BC Wildfire)

Crews took advantage of favourable winds on Aug. 6 to successfully complete a 300 hectare planned ignition along the northeast flank of the Thomas Creek fire. (BC Wildfire)

South Okanagan wildfires to stay active until winter: BC Wildfire

There is a long, dry and hot fire season ahead for the South Okanagan Similkameen

South Okanagan wildfires will stay active into the winter months, said BC Wildfire Services.

“It’s very common, if you look across all the fires of note, these are very large fires embedded into deep drought conditions,” said B.C. Wildfire information officer Mike McCully on Tuesday, during a Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen fire briefing.

“I can tell people that they can expect to have these fires on the landscape at least until winter.”

Rain and cooler conditions did help the crews fighting the fires currently burning in the region, but the conditions are expected to warm up and dry out over the coming days.

And that means the fire activity will pick up again.

“We will see any effects of the rain pretty much vanish by the weekend,” said B.C. Wildfire information officer Mike McCully. “We are still in a deep drought and we’re going to be in these kinds of conditions for a while.”

Garrison Lake – 12,000 ha

The Garrison Lake Fire is still out of control, and is estimated at 12,000 hectares in size, with the fire having moved over 1,500 metres into Manning Park.

BC Wildfire and the Ministry of Transportation are continuing to keep an eye on the fire with regards to the safety of travelers along Highway 3.

Thomas Creek fire – 11,755 ha

The Thomas Creek hasn’t seen significant growth over the last few days, with the majority of the activity on the northern flanks of the fire as it heads towards one month of activity.

The northwest corner of Thomas Creek was where they conducted their controlled burn on Aug. 6. Fires were set by hand and by helicopter at the edge of the guard line, which was then blown by the wind that day back onto the existing fire.

Another crew is deployed on the southeast corner, with the plan from BC Wildfire to have the two divisions work to join up their guard lines near the Allendale Lake Resort.

In addition to the many firefighters from B.C., Alberta, Mexico and Australia, there are 62 members of the armed forces stationed at Thomas Creek. McCully made a point of acknowledging them as their contribution, as the members of the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry Bravo Battalion celebrate their regiment’s 107th birthday.

Nk’Mip Creek Wildfire – 17,469 ha

Nk’Mip Creek has over 60 of the 130 firefighters deployed to the wildfire stationed on the northwest flank, where the difficult terrain and steep slopes are making it difficult to bring in heavy equipment and establish guard-lines.

Although the fire has not shown significant growth towards the Baldy Mountain area in recent days, with the winds blowing the fire more towards the northwest, there are no changes in the recommendations coming from BC Wildfire on the safety for residents in that area.

With the rain over the weekend, BC Wildfire took advantage of the reduced fire behaviour to rest up some of their crews ahead of what they are expecting to be a long and dry fire season.

One of the ways they took advantage was by bringing up short-lines, and attacking the fire directly by putting water right on the flames during the reduced heat.

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Finally, BC Wildfire once again reiterated their call for everyone to be mindful and cautious and to avoid causing any further fires.

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B.C. Wildfires 2021Okanagan