A return to warm and dry conditions has resulted in increased fire behaviour in many parts of the Elephant Hill wildfire, says the BC Wildfire Service.
The Elephant Hill fire, formerly named the Ashcroft Reserve fire, is burning north of Ashcroft and Cache Creek and east of Clinton.
The Elephant Hill wildfire currently covers about 61,500 hectares, the wildfire service said today (July 26, 2017). About 300 firefighting personnel are assigned to the fire, backed up by 60 pieces of heavy equipment, 50 structural protection specialists, 60 support staff and air support. Existing and additional resources are being reallocated as necessary to manage the increased fire activity.
On Tuesday, unexpected easterly winds pushed the fire over the western containment lines towards the Bonaparte River. This shift prompted the TNRD to expand evacuation orders for several properties northeast of Clinton, in the interest of safeguarding life and property.
Details about the evacuation order are available on the TNRD website at: http://ow.ly/S3tK30dVT9a
There are no immediate threats to structures at this time.
The expansion of the Elephant Hill wildfire was due to several days of warm conditions and gusty winds from the east — not controlled burns. The BC Wildfire Service only conducts controlled burns to manage aggressive wildfires when conditions are safe, and yesterday’s winds were too variable and gusty to do so.
All available options to manage the wildfire’s growth yesterday will be assessed over the coming days, including airtanker operations and controlled burns if it is safe and feasible to do so.
Controlled burns could begin as early as July 26, 2017, depending on site and weather conditions. The controlled burns would be conducted to contain recent growth on the western side, to the north of Loon Lake, above Back Valley Road, and along the southeast and east flanks of the Elephant Hill fire.
“The planned burns would reinforce the fire guards that crews and heavy equipment have established over the last few weeks by removing flammable materials from those areas,” stated a news release from the wildfire service.
“The goals are to halt the growth of the wildfire and further protect properties and other nearby values.”
If the controlled burns go ahead, smoke columns, open flames and increased amounts of smoke may be visible from Cache Creek, Clinton and surrounding areas. “The controlled burns will be supported constantly by aircraft, equipment and firefighting personnel.”
To report a new wildfire or an open burning violation, call 1-800-663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone.
For up-to-date information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, call 1 888 3-FOREST (1 888 336-7378) or visit: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/wildfire-status
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