The Trozzo Creek fire as seen from Lemon Creek. Photo: Joel Pelletier

The Trozzo Creek fire as seen from Lemon Creek. Photo: Joel Pelletier

West Kootenay wildfires weekend update

Winds and lightning may worsen conditions.

The BC Wildfire Service is warning that changing weather conditions over the weekend may cause wildfire behaviour to increase in the West Kootenay.

Increased winds and a potential change in wind direction accompanied by the chance of lightning is forecasted over the weekend. These conditions could worsen the fire situation, especially at higher elevations.

Poor overnight humidity recovery is also expected over the next few days.

“This means fine fuels and vegetation available to the fire will burn easier then usual — certain types of vegetation we don’t normally expect to burn easily is,” explained the BCWS in their daily update on the Arrow Lake fires.

“Please be aware that any hot exhaust, spark or friction could ignite very quickly and spread very quickly.”

There are currently a total of 125 firefighters, 34 pieces of heavy equipment and 4 helicopters assigned to the Arrow Lake Complex with additional aircraft available.

Octopus Creek

The Octopus Creek fire was 17,696 hectares as of Saturday evening.

One of the main priorities on the Octopus Creek wildfire is to continue working on the north flank, building a containment line to protect the community of Fauquier from the advancing wildfire and re-direct the wildfire up slope.

The aerial planned ignition has been postponed due to smoky conditions; however, crews are making good progress clearing burnable vegetation with hand ignitions on control lines. Heavy equipment and crews on Koch Creek’s east flank are making good progress establishing control lines.

The fire is slowly creeping toward the control lines; however, the crews and equipment continue to reinforce the guard. Additional heavy equipment is planned to install new guard in priority areas once the priority lines are set.

An evacuation order remains in place for 168 properties in the communities of Applegrove and Fauquier. The area goes from the south side of Taite Creek, including the Taite Creek recreation site north to Grassy Point.

Michaud Creek

The Michaud Creek fire was 8,113 hectares as of Saturday evening.

Firefighters are working along the wildfire perimeter in identified priority areas. They continue to use direct attack where possible, utilizing water pumps and hoses. Crews continue to work on spot fires across Johnson Creek with water and hose along with helicopter assistance when visibility allows. Under the current weather conditions, firefighters anticipate they can contain the spot fires.

Crews will continue to focus on establishing and reinforcing containment lines in priority areas, which includes the north flank, in order to limit the growth to the north and north west.

The evacuation order was downgraded to an evacuation alert July 26, with 356 properties remaining under alert from Johnston Creek and continuing north to Whatshan Lake, including the communities of Edgewood and Needles.

Renata Creek

The Renata Creek fire was 2,504 hectares as of Saturday evening.

Crews continue to build and reinforce containment lines established in priority areas. The fire continues to back down slowly toward the community, but there is no imminent threat at this time.

The structure protection unit had been delayed due to smoke but has since arrived in Renata and are currently deploying equipment.

The south flank of Michaud Creek wildfire and the north of Renata Creek wildfire has been mostly inaccessible by helicopters due to smoke conditions. The fire is being monitored by satellite imagery. Planned control lines will be constructed as soon as conditions allow, with heavy equipment and planned ignition where possible.

An evacuation alert remains in place for the community of Renata and any other dwellings within the alert perimeter, on the east shore of Lower Arrow Lake in Electoral Area J.

RELATED: Billions in losses, thousands could die if wildfire response unchanged: report

Trozzo Creek

The Trozzo Creek wildfire was 5,202 hectares as of Saturday evening.

Changing weather conditions may also negatively affect this fire over the weekend.

Ongoing challenges include: a lack of water resources at high elevations and difficulties delivering by truck to rough roads; steep, rocky and complex terrain in the Trozzo and Lemon Creek drainages; high volume of dead and downed trees at high elevations; dense smoke that limits visibility and the ability for fixed-wing aircraft to access the fire.

An evacuation order remains in place for 32 properties in the area of Popou Road, Rooster Road, and Lemon Creek Road. An evacuation alert remains in place for 142 properties.

READ MORE: ‘It is hard. It is fun’: 55-year-old Castlegar area woman becomes firefighter

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