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Wildfire  

Wildfire grows to nearly 5 hectares in Kalamalka Park in Coldstream

Wildfire close to 5 hectares

UPDATE: 9:05 p.m.

The Cosens Creek wildfire has grown to nearly five hectares so far, according to an update from BC Wildfire Service.

The BCWS dashboard now lists the fire at 4.60 hectares.

The fire started burning in Kalamalka Provincial Park, southeast of Vernon on Friday afternoon before planes and helicopters started to hit the blaze from above.

BCWS ground crews were joined by the local fire department to action the fire.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.


UPDATE: 6:20 p.m.

BC Wildfire Service said the Cosens Creek wildfire located southeast of Vernon within the Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park is still estimated at one hectare in size.

There are nine personnel, four helicopters as well as the local fire department that are on scene, according to Fire Information Officer Shaelee Stearns.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Stearns said plans for the evening are for crews to continue to respond and have helicopter support where needed.

Response to the fire will continue to be monitored through fire activity conditions that are weather dependent.


UPDATE: 4:55 p.m.

There's now less smoke coming from the fire burning in Kalamalka Provincial Park Friday afternoon, while ground crews, air tankers and helicopters continue to hit the one-hectare blaze.

The BC Wildfire Service is still classifying the fire as "out of control," and nine firefighters are now on scene.

"The helicopters are on standby while the air tankers complete their objectives," said Shaelee Stearns. "Then the [four helicopters] should be back on it as well."

No structures are threatened by the fire at this time.

Cosens Bay Road into the park remains closed as crews work to knock down the fire.


UPDATE: 4:10 p.m.

The wildfire burning south of Vernon in Kalamalka Provincial Park is currently about one hectare in size, according to the BC Wildfire Service.

In a Tweet Friday afternoon, the BCWS says the fire is burning in timber and grass, and it's exhibiting Rank 2 and 3 behaviour. This means the fire has an “organized flame front with moderate rate of spread and occasional candling.”

The Cosens Bay Road into the area has been closed to the public. The fire is highly visible from Highway 97, Vernon and surrounding areas.


UPDATE: 3:50 p.m.

BC Wildfire Service ground crews are en route to the fire burning in Kalamalka Provincial Park Friday afternoon, while planes and helicopters hit the blaze from the above.

The fire appears to have been sparked some time around 3:15 p.m. Friday afternoon, in the grasslands area above Cosens Bay.

BCWS fire information officer Aydan Coray says they don't have a size estimate for the fire at this time, but a Birddog aircraft is currently in the air assessing the fire.

One witness told Castanet the fire appears to be growing quite quickly, although there does't appear to be much wind in the area.

In addition to three water tankers dropping retardant, two helicopters are bucketing the fire, scooping water from the nearby Kalamalka Lake. Coray is urging boaters in the area to stay out of the way of the helicopters.


ORIGINAL: 3:30 p.m.

A fire is burning in Kalamalka Provincial Park, southeast of Vernon, Friday afternoon.

Pictures sent to Castanet show smoke in the hills around the Cosens Bay area in Coldstream.

Witnesses say a helicopter was initially on scene, dumping water on the flames, and three water tankers are now hitting the fire.

One witness says there doesn't appear to be much wind in the area.

Castanet will have more information as soon as it becomes available.



New wildfire sparks near Armstrong, north of Silver Star Provincial Park

Fire sparks north of Silverstar

A new fire has sparked nine kilometres east of Armstrong, north Silver Star Provincial Park.

Named the Velm Creek Wildfire, the fire is estimated at five hectares in size and is burning rank three, with heavy timber, an organized flame front and occasional candling, according to BC Wildfire Service.

The fire was discovered Friday night.

The cause of the fire is unknown at this time.

BCWS said the fire is highly visible to surrounding communities. Air tankers are currently responding with crews and helicopters en route.

No other information was provided on the wildfire at this time. Castanet has reached out for more information.



Keremeos Creek Wildfire fire behaviour is expected to remain relatively stable

Fire activity relatively stable

BC Wildfire Service said that the Keremeos Creek Wildfire will look to remain relatively stable throughout Friday and into the weekend, even with thunderstorms forecast Friday night through to Sunday.

There are 185 firefighters, 13 structure protection personnel, a liaison from Lower Similkameen Indian Band, 15 helicopters and 19 pieces of heavy equipment currently stationed on the fire. The fire is still estimated at 6,950 hectares.

On Wednesday, all evacuation orders were pulled down by the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen. Evacuation Alerts remain on 20 selected properties along Green Mountain Road and Marron Valley Road.

One structure was lost when the fire first sparked in late July, and the entire communities of Olalla and Apex Mountain Village were evacuated.

BCWS said that the fire is currently stable along the western side of Highway 3A, and operational objectives remain mostly the same there, in its update on Friday afternoon.

On the west side, crews are completing a 25-foot mop up, from Keremeos Creek ridge where the aerial ignition was completed on Aug. 1.

Mop-up and patrol continues throughout the Western flank of the fire, and along Green Mountain Road where BCWS said there is minimal fire activity.

At the north end of the fire, crews will continue to use direct attack methods to extinguish hot spots from within the fire's perimeter.

Danger Tree Assessors and fallers continue to patrol this area of the fire and ensure areas are safe within the fire perimeter.

Thanks to subsided growth and fire activity, structure protection has been significantly downgraded as personnel continue to clean up protection equipment.

BCWS noted that smoke will continue to be visible from Highway 3A and surrounding communities.

"This is common with large wildfires, and smoke will continue to be visible until there is significant rainfall over the fire. Smoke appearing from well within the fire perimeter and burned material is common."

Smoke that is spotted rising from green, unburned fuel or from outside of the fire's perimeter should be reported.

To report a wildfire or open burning violation, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone.



Fire crews quickly got three new fires under control Friday morning

Quick work on new fires

UPDATE: 2:30 p.m.

Fire crews have quickly gotten three new wildfires under control Friday.

Three new fires were discovered along the Coquihalla corridor Friday morning – one east of Logan Lake, one along the Coquihalla Highway south of Merritt, and one east of the Brookmere area.

A helicopter quickly bucketed the lightning-sparked Morrison Creek fire east of Logan Lake early Friday morning, and a four-person crew finished off the job later in the day. The fire never grew larger than "spot-sized," and it's now classified as "under control."

A human-caused fire was sparked later in the morning along the Coquihalla Highway, near Kane Valley Road. Four BC Wildfire Service firefighters attended the scene and put out the fire, before it grew any larger than 0.1 hectares.

But once that crew wrapped up their work on the Coquihalla fire, they were diverted to another nearby lightning-caused fire, located between Brookmere and Highway 5A. A total of nine firefighters responded to that Hastings Lake wildfire, and as of Friday afternoon, the spot-sized fire is also now classified as "under control."

According to the BCWS map, there are currently 112 active fires burning in the province, 17 of which were started in the past two days. But crews appear to be having success promptly getting new fire starts under control.


ORIGINAL: 10:45 p.m.

Fire crews are fighting a new wildfire east of Logan Lake Friday morning.

The Morrison Creek fire, a lightning-caused fire burning just south of Paska Lake, was first discovered Friday morning, and the BC Wildfire Service has already had a helicopter bucketing the fire earlier this morning.

BCWS fire information officer Aydan Coray says a four-person crew is now on scene working the blaze, but the fire is still classified as “out of control.”

It is currently burning a 0.6-hectare area.

Coray says there are buildings in the area, but none are currently being threatened.



Small fire north of Kamloops still sitting at nine hectares

No new growth on Plateau

A wildfire burning 20 kilometres north of Kamloops saw no new growth overnight, according to the BC Wildfire Service.

The East Meadows Plateau wildfire, burning south of Porcupine Meadows provincial park, is still estimated at nine hectares.

“It's still classified as out of control,” BC Wildfire Service fire information officer Shaelee Stearns told Castanet Kamloops.

“We still have helicopters returning throughout the morning today to offer support to ground crews.”

Stearns said there are 24 personnel on the ground today continuing to establish a machine guard with heavy machinery.

Stearns said ground crews worked overnight on the fire.

No structures are threatened at this time.

This story will be updated as more information becomes known



Wildfire west of Cache Creek now classified as under control, BCWS says

Maria Creek under control

The Maria Creek wildfire, burning west of Cache Creek, is now classified as under control.

According to the BCWS, a wildfire is classified as under control when suppression efforts have ensured the wildfire won’t spread any further.

Shaelee Stearns, BCWS fire information officer, said crews are still in the area, located northeast of Pavilion, working on patrolling and mop up.

“They're continuing to patrol hotspots that were that were found when we did a scan with some aerial resources. And they're patrolling the guard and working on those hotspots and putting them out,” Stearns said.

“They're also working on extinguishing some spots within 100 feet of the fire’s perimeter. So that's looking at the fire perimeter and then working inwards to make sure all that is completely mopped up.”

Stearns said crews are demobilizing extra gear that is no longer needed so it can be moved to other places if need be.

The Maria Creek wildfire spread to about 997 hectares in size after being sparked by lightning on July 31. The blaze burned largely within old cut blocks, in a remote location away from communities.



Cabin destroyed by wildfire on remote shores of Shuswap Lake

Cabin burns in wildfire

A cabin has been destroyed by a wildfire burning along Shuswap Lake in a remote area southwest of Seymour Arm.

The Mount Grice-Hutchinson fire is now pegged at 7.9 hectares and is suspected to be human caused.

“In an effort to protect the additional cabins in the boat-in only area, BC Wildfire Service has deployed a structure protection unit,” said the Columbia Shuswap Regional District on Thursday.

The unit will set up multiple sprinkler systems around structures.

Details about the cabin that was "completely lost" to the fire are not available.

An evacuation alert is in place for the cabins in the Mount Grice-Hutchinson area.

The fire is burning in heavy timber on a west-facing slope, with rank one and two fire behaviour — mostly a smouldering surface fire with open flame and a slow rate of spread.

The BC Wildfire Service is attacking the fire with both ground and air resources, including helicopters and air tankers.

The public is asked to stay clear of the area to avoid interfering with firefighting operations.



Minimal growth Thursday on wildfire burning north of Kamloops

Plateau fire now 9 hectares

UPDATE: 4:23 p.m.

A small fire burning north of Kamloops saw some growth on Thursday, now covering an estimated nine hectares.

The East Mountain Plateau fire was reported on Wednesday, when its smoke was very visible from Kamloops. The fire is burning an estimated 20 kilometres to the north of the city, south of Porcupine Meadows provincial park.

“Right now, it’s still classified as out of control,” BC Wildfire Service fire information officer Shaelee Stearns told Castanet Kamloops, noting the suspected cause is lightning.

“We did have our air tankers on it this morning, as well as two helicopters throughout the day and then 29 ground personnel, as well, who are working to establish a guard with some heavy machinery.”

Stearns said ground crews worked overnight on the fire.

No structures are threatened at this time.


ORIGINAL STORY: 10:29 a.m.

The East Meadows Plateau fire, burning an estimated 20 kilometres north of Kamloops, is now estimated at seven hectares in size.

According to BC Wildfire Service fire information officer Aydan Coray, the fire is still classified as out of control.

“There's currently two helicopters and 29 personnel on site and I believe the skimmers are working that one this morning and throughout the day as well,” Coray said.

BCWS previously said the blaze is unrelated to the Watching Creek fire, which is now under control but had been burning northwest of the new fire in recent weeks.

This story will be updated as more information becomes known.



Light haze from wildfires hangs over Okanagan Valley Thursday

Haze hangs over Valley

While B.C.'s smoky skies bulletin doesn't currently cover the Okanagan, it appears some high-elevation haze is moving through the Valley.

Southwesterly winds are blowing some smoke from wildfires in Oregon and Washington across the border Thursday afternoon, while the large Keremeos Creek wildfire continues to give off smoke. But air quality at ground level doesn't appear to be impacted at this time.

“There seems to be increasing smoke in the Okanagan area this afternoon, but not seeing any high concentrations at ground level,” said Environment Canada meteorologist Bobby Sekhon.

“So you'll likely continue to see those hazy skies over the next few days. Really, you can expect to see up and down haze at least for the next few weeks until the forest fires settle down.”

The smoke forecast map at FireSmoke.ca, produced by UBC, show widespread light smoke across the Okanagan until about 7 p.m. Thursday, with heavier smoke hitting the Osoyoos and Oliver area later this evening. The forecast shows light smoke returning to the region Friday afternoon.

The air quality index for the South and Central Okanagan is currently at a three out of 10, while the North Okanagan is at a two. These all fall under the category of “low risk.”

A smoky skies bulletin was issued Thursday morning for the southeast corner of the province, excluding the Okanagan.

“With the smoke out there right now, it is possible that levels will creep up to the point where we have a smoky skies bulletin [in the Okanagan]; we evaluate that every morning,” said Ben Weinstein, senior air quality meteorologist with B.C.'s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.

The region remains under a heat warning, and Thursday is forecast to be the hottest day of the week. Temperatures are expected to return to the low 30s through the weekend, with a chance of thunderstorms coming Friday and Saturday.



51 active fires in Southeast and dry conditions won’t help

51 active fires in Southeast

Lightning sparked dozens of fires in the Southeast Fire Centre over the past week, and now dry conditions are causing new concerns.

87 new fires have been sparked since last Wednesday, and 51 of those remain active at this time. Fifteen are under control, 10 are being helped, but 26 are listed as out of control. Most of those are lightning-cased and at high elevations.

“As fuels continue to dry and relative humidity has dropped in the Southeast; we anticipate seeing increased fire behaviour and complexity as holdover fires continue being discovered,” notes the BC Wildfire Service in its latest update for the region.

Among the wildfires of note in the Southeast are the Mount Docking fire, which is located approximately 27 kilometres east of Radium Hot Spring.

The fire is estimated at 1,317 hectares in size. Morning inversions and heavy smoke reduced visibility over the past couple of days, and it wasn’t until Wednesday that crews were able to make a more accurate update on its size. Smoke is expected to increase in the afternoon and continue to be visible in the coming days.

There are currently 42 firefighters, six helicopters and five pieces of heavy equipment assigned to the Mount Docking fire.

11.5 kilometres west of Kaslo, 45 firefighters are supporting the control lines of the Briggs Creek wildfire with water in some areas.

The fire was discovered Aug. 1 and is estimated at 1,730 hectares in size. Originally burning in steep and mountainous terrain, it has since slowly backed downslope to established containment lines and is approaching an area of defendable ground where crews can start using direct attack strategies.

There are two other wildfires of note in the Southeast Fire Centre. The Mulvey Creek fire is approximately 4.5 kilometres from Slocan and is estimated to be four hectares in size. The Wren Creek wildfire is approximately 6.5 kilometres northeast of the Ymir and is estimated at two hectares.



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