Last night was a good night in the ongoing battle against the Two Mile wildfire, said Sicamous fire chief Brett Ogino on Saturday morning (July 31).
He said the fire didn’t move too much, winds were relatively light and temperatures were cool while humidity was high — all pluses in his book.
All fire guards on the north and south flanks of the fire, protecting Sicamous and Swansea Point respectively, held overnight and crews will continue to reinforce them throughout Saturday.
Local fire departments are operating in unified command with BC Wildfire Service (BCWS), and structure protection crews continue to work on the north and south flanks of the fire, said Ogino.
Those battling the blaze are expecting a thunderstorm on Sunday and/or Monday, and are trying to prepare for it as best they can, he added.
Ogino said the 10 to 15 mm of rain forecasted to come alongside the storm would be welcome, but the negative effects of a storm’s erratic and gusty winds outweigh any benefits from its rain.
“Wind is going to be our nemesis,” he said.
Smoke from the fire remains heavy around Sicamous, and Ogino said it’s affecting air operations. The amount of helicopters fighting the fire has had to be reduced, and air tankers and skimmer planes currently can’t fly.
“What we’re hearing from the helicopter pilots is that it’s nasty conditions, very thick smoke that they’re flying through,” said Ogino.
“You can imagine what that’s like in a little helicopter cab.”
Life isn’t any easier for firefighters on the ground. Ogino said there’s currently a strong bunch of firefighters up on the hillside working in rugged and difficult terrain.
“With dry fuels, no moisture and tough terrain, it’s a tough slog for them,” he said.
BCWS’s estimate of the fire remains at 1,200 hectares, as thick smoke is impacting its ability to gauge the fire’s size.
A benefit of thick smoke, however, is that it keeps temperatures down slightly, making fire activity less aggressive. It also means there are no strong winds in the area.
Ogino wants to remind the public that Highway 97A is closed for the public’s and first responders’ safety.
“There’s a lot of danger trees and hazards associated with that piece of road, it’s not closed to inconvenience people. We don’t want people getting hurt by falling trees and power lines,” he said.
“We have a good size, out of control wildfire above the town of Sicamous, and people need to understand that and not get complacent.”