With warmer weather comes increased wildfire activity.
That’s what BC Wildfire Service is expecting this weekend at the McDougall Creek wildfire as temperatures are forecasted to reach 28 degrees.
Additionally, they are expecting ‘crossover conditions’, which is when the relative humidity is less than or equal to the temperature, which is an indicator of extreme burning conditions.
This term indicates extreme burning conditions which could increase fire activity. The ridge of high pressure is forecasted to build until Sunday, Sept. 10 and head east.
At the northwest flank of the wildfire on Thursday, Sept. 7, small-scale planned hand ignitions were executed to remove unburnt fuel between the established machine guard and the free-burning fire’s edge.
If conditions are favourable, crews will continue to be the same on Friday between the fire’s edge and the constructed guard off of the Terrace Forest Service Road.
On Friday, fire crews will receive some help as a team from an Incident Management Team from Ontario has arrived to assist a hand in battling the blaze.
Some crews will be assigned to the northern portion of the ridge adjacent to Powers Creek drainage where they will extinguish hot spots from the established safe anchor.
A hoselay has also been completed in the area. Other crews will continue to patrol and mop up hot spots near in the Hidden Creek area to secure containment lines.
Meanwhile, the contingency guard being built from the Glenrosa community, tying into the Jack Creek Forest Service Road and further to Lambly Lake has been extended. They will continue on from Lambly Lake to Hidden Creek Road.
Because of increased temperatures and ‘crossover conditions’ this weekend, crews will receive more aerial support that will bucket the blaze.
BC Wildfire Service has also extended to area restriction order until Friday, Sept. 15, or until rescinded.
They would like to remind the public that nobody is allowed in the area restriction/evacuation order zone. Members of the public continue to be found along Jack Pine Forest Service Road as they attempt to access properties by boat along Okanagan Lake.
For the foreseeable future, Kelowna RCMP and conservation officers will remain on the scene to continue to enforce the area restriction order. Anyone found in the area is subject to a $1,150 fine.
The order is in place for many reasons including:
•Heavy equipment and chainsaw operators: Heavy equipment and chainsaw operators can’t hear or see you when operating equipment;
•Ash pits: Deep, intensely burning stumps and tree roots may result in hot ashpits underground that can lead to severe burns if you step or fall into one;
•Falling trees: Drought and burnt-out tree roots cause unstable trees that may fall at any time, especially if it’s windy.
All evacuation orders and alerts remain the same at this time. Residents can look at the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations map.
On Friday, residents in the Wilson’s Landing and Cinnabar Creek areas will have temporary access from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (but subject to change due to wildfire conditions and RCMP priorities).
Residents are to check in and leave through an RCMP checkpoint on Westside Road and Lindley Road and must have the following:
- Show their government-issued photo identification to confirm they live in the area, or present a property tax notice or utility documentation if the property is a recreation or secondary property;
- Travel directly to and from their home, as directed by RCMP and obey traffic control personnel working on the road;
- Refrain from taking pictures of other homes.
Emergency Operations and the RCMP also have guidelines in place for people taking advantage of the temporary access:
- Drive directly to your property and directly back out through the same checkpoint;
- Collect documents, medication or other personal items;
- Pick up gear, clothes, tools, equipment or a vehicle;
- Check on house and contents.
- Only property owners are permitted;
- Visit a house that has been lost in the wildfire if a fire inspection has not been conducted;
- Use shower, bathroom or laundry facilities (water and power may not be available);
- Clean out fridge or freezer;
- Sight-see in the neighbourhood or stop to take pictures for friends, family and neighbours;
- Walk around the neighbourhood or enter a neighbour’s property.
RCMP will be patrolling the area as well to make sure guidelines are being followed. Visits are for families only and recommended for people 19 and older. Additionally, residents are being asked to clear the property clothing for the occasion – long-sleeved shirts, pants, close-toed shoes and face masks before entering because of smoke and ash in the area. The risk of wildfire is also present in the area.
Due to safety concerns, the temporary access for Bear Creek Road and Rose Valley North that was scheduled for Sept. 9 has been postponed.
The McDougall Creek wildfire remains at 13,712 hectares, but the size will increase as new mapping hasn’t occurred since Tuesday, Aug. 29. It is a wildfire of note.
Transport Canada and the BC Wildfire Service prohibit the use of drones of any size near a wildfire. The operation of any aircraft not associated with fire suppression activities within a radius of five nautical miles around a fire, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones), is illegal. Anyone found interfering with wildfire control efforts may face penalties of up to $100,000 and or up to one year in jail.