Highly anticipated details were shared about the Bush Creek East wildfire.
At the 2 p.m. (Aug. 25) briefing with the Columbia Shuswap Regional District and BC Wildfire Service information officer Mike McCulley, who joined the region’s team today, preliminary structure loss numbers within the regional district were shared and plans to continue responding to the fire were discussed.
In the CSRD region, 131 properties have been reported lost and an additional 37 have been partially damaged. These are dynamic numbers, the CSRD stressed, and more work is being done to get accurate estimates and a GIS-mapping dashboard available.
Supplies are being sent into the region, to locations including the Ross Creek Store, Anglemont Marina and Lakeview Centre, confirmed Derek Sutherland, the Shuswap Emergency Program’s director. A barge is also ferrying goods across the lake, involving some dangerous supplies, said Sutherland, so anyone wanting to use that service must register with the Emergency Operations Centre. The Seymour Arm forestry road is still open both ways and has been graded, said the CSRD.
The Bush Creek East wildfire has not grown much in the last 72 hours, said McCulley, and remains just over 41,000 hectares. 113 structural personnel, 101 firefighters and over 100 pieces of heavy equipment continue to tackle the blaze. Of the 17 helicopters BCWS has assigned to the region, most were working on the Bush Creek East fire, he confirmed.
Fire activity remains decreased, said McCulley, with cooler and more humid evenings, but increasing temperatures this coming week are a concern. He said the smoke he has seen rising in a straight line is generally a good indicator of fuel burning off in the interior of the fire.
Hazards remain in fire-affected areas and are a major factor in deciding to rescind evacuation alerts and orders, said McCulley. Hazards include danger trees falling, which can and have killed people this year alone, he stressed, but also toxins, smoking power poles, electrical lines down and shut downs of power that cause food to rot and leaves septic systems unmanaged.
BC Hydro doesn’t have a firm date for service restoration, but the CSRD said they come to each morning briefing and information will be updated as soon as it is made available.
All crews are back in the same areas they were before being disrupted Wednesday evening, said McCulley, and objectives have not changed.
Crews continue to work in priority areas, he said, assessing danger trees and hazards along the Anglemont/Squilax Road to Scotch Creek starting at the Squilax Airstrip. Crews were working from the top of the saddle into the Loakin Valley, east of Banshee Lake. A guard has been constructed and crews will be doing mop up and small-scale hand ignitions.
BCWS is monitoring the properties on both sides of Adams Lake and working with MOTI to get the Holding Bridge repaired and the Holding Road cleared. The Interfor strike team continues to mop up in the Adams FSR area. There is a daily DTA/DTF of Adams Forest Service Road and 5400 Road. Interfor is also working with crews to extinguish hot spots above Agate Bay.
Crews are demobilizing structure protection along the west side of Adams Lake and still mopping up above cabins.
Two unit crews are working on building a combination of direct line with heavy equipment and indirect line above communities along the fire’s edge behind Lee Creek and Scotch Creek, supported by helicopters with buckets. Structure protection personnel are working on spots close to structures.
Structure protection is still engaged in the community of Celista. Helicopters with buckets continue to assist where needed. A heavy equipment line is complete and tied into the hillside north of Magna Bay. Crews are also doing direct attack along this area of the fire. Heavy equipment teams have completed a machine line upslope of structures in Magna Bay and is continuing towards Ross Creek.
A unit crew is doing direct attack above English Road and through the Turtle Valley working east. They are supported by heavy equipment and helicopters with buckets. Crews are anchoring off Turtle Valley, establishing hose lays upslope from English road and working to build a guard to the east of Sorrento, along with heavy equipment.
The CSRD said some Alertable app messages have been consolidated and although no changes have been made to current evacuation orders or alerts, some messaging may come out and those affected are urged to read alerts carefully.
Highway 1 between Chase and Tappen has reopened but no side roads will be accessible and no stopping will be permitted in the wildfire area. Please monitor drivebc.ca for latest updates.
If your property is on Evacuation Order, the CSRD will assist you in safely leaving the area. Please register with Emergency Support Services (ESS) at ess.gov.bc.ca and call 250-833-3360. The ESS Reception Centre is open at the 5th Avenue Seniors Activity Centre at 170-5th Ave. SE.
For those in the Anglemont, St. Ives, and Magna Bay areas, ESS support, including food and lodging are available to residents who chose to leave. Call the EOC for more information: 250-833-3350 or the ESS to learn more at 250-833-3360.
If you are accessing ESS support, ensure you know your renewal date. Contact ESS for more information: 250-833-3360.
Those that are out of the Evacuation Order areas and need support with medical prescriptions, please call 250-833-3397.
Mail delivery has been held at the Chase post office for many addresses. Sorrento’s post office is under an evacuation order so mail has been held there until further notice.