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UPDATED: Incident management team arrives at Slocan Park fire

Chris Sapriken took this photo Monday of the Slocan Park fire, noting that “In two hours all those trees to the right, behind the knoll, were gone.” - submitted by Chris Sapriken
Chris Sapriken took this photo Monday of the Slocan Park fire, noting that “In two hours all those trees to the right, behind the knoll, were gone.”
— image credit: submitted by Chris Sapriken

Update for Friday, August 8:

The evacuation alert remains in effect for the Slocan Park area as issued by the Regional District of the Central Kootenay on Tuesday under the recommendation of the wildfire management branch.

The Slocan Park fire has seven helicopters actioning the fire using water buckets. Fire information officer Noelle Kekula said the construction of heli-pads is expected to be complete by Saturday which will allow fire crews access to the fire perimeter to begin construction of a hand guard.

One fire in the Woodbury drainage is located three kilometre’s east of the Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park boundary and has become too dangerous for firefighters to be on site due to the terrain said Southeast Fire Centre fire information officer Jordan Turner. The fire is a the top of the ridge and is holding in size at 13 hectares.

“We do have a plan in place if the fire were to move towards the Woodbury trail,” said Turner, “but at this point it is not close to the trail or the cabin.”

A second fire in the Woodbury drainage is close to being considered extinguished as crews are in the patrol stage.

Campfire and open fire bans remain in effect which includes fireworks. With thunderstorms forecasted this weekend, the wildfire branch is expecting high winds which can greatly effect fire behaviour.

To report a forest fire call 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 from a cellular phone.

Thursday, August 7

Incident management team arrives at Slocan Park fire

An evacuation alert remained in effect Thursday for Slocan Park residents living beneath a 120-hectare forest fire, but officials said it now poses “significantly less” risk to them.

The fire, caused by lightning and discovered Saturday afternoon, took off Monday evening under gusty winds. It is not yet contained and continues to burn approximately two kilometres east of Highway 6.

A provincial incident management team with experience in dealing with fires close to communities has arrived and took over command of the fire.

The team has personnel for logistics, plans, air, weather, finance, operations, equipment, safety, fire behaviour and weather forecasting and an information officer.

As of this afternoon, fire control was limited to air action by six helicopters bucketing water. Meanwhile 60 firefighters (three unit crews from the Coastal Fire Centre) were busy building helipads to gain access to the south fire perimeter.

Once access is available, ground crews will build a fire guard. According to information officer Noelle Kekula, no machine guard has been built but it remains a contingency plan if the fire’s direction changes towards Slocan Park residents. She said the fire seems to be burning northerly upslope to the ridge away from residential areas.

The fire has been burning at a rank three level, which is a moderate rate of spread with a vigorous surface fire. Fires are rated from rank one — which is a smouldering ground fire with no open flame with slow to minimal rate of spread — to rank six, which is violent fire behaviour with a rolling crown fire that even air tankers have little to no effect on.

An evacuation alert is still in effect for residents of Slocan Park and Crescent Valley as issued by the Regional District of Central Kootenay at the recommendation of the Southeast Fire Centre.

The area covers addresses from 2826 to 3024 on Highway 6, affecting 47 homes. The alert suggests residents have some belongings packed and be ready to leave at a moment’s notice. Those with livestock have been asked to move animals to a safe location.

Meanwhile, the Fennell Creek fire 8.5 km east of Silverton, which has reached approximately 100 hectares, is holding steady as it’s burning in a drainage against a rocky area. No crews are working on the fire because it’s still too dangerous for personal due to steep slopes and heavy winds.

Southeast Fire Centre information officer Jordan Turner added that safety has been a priority as rolling debris on the very steep slopes are not safe for ground crews.

Turner said helicopters are bucketing on priority sections of the fire. He emphasized the fire is in a very remote area causing no threat to the public. Fire behaviour specialists monitor the fire each day and continue to look for options as the fire has been burning at a rank three level, which is a vigorous surface fire.

Among helicopters working in the area, of note is the large Sky Crane which is commonly used in heli-logging.

The Southeast Fire Centre has more than 450 personal working in the region. There is heightened concern due to high winds and potential thunderstorms forecast this weekend. Due to the weather outlook and the high number of fire starts this past week, an additional 75 contract crews are on standby.

More than 60 new fires started last weekend, and 24 new starts were reported between Monday and today. The latter is twice what the Cariboo Fire Centre observed in the same time frame.

“It’s busier than we have been in the last few years,” said Turner.

Air tankers are working steady on a variety of fires in the region and are expected to continue, he said. Most fires are less than one hectare and have been actioned by three-person initial crews.

You can find an interactive map of all active wildfires of note in BC at emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca.

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