West Kelowna  

Little growth to Smith Creek fire

About 2,500 people remain out of their homes as the Smith Creek wildfire enters its third day.

While fire activity has diminished somewhat, it is still unclear when some or all of those people will be allowed back into their homes.

"I know the chief and I will be looking at that," says incident commander, Randy Burgess .

"Hopeful, but we don't want to be premature either. I am not going to make any comment further than that."

Despite the high winds Friday night, Burgess says the fire only grew by about 10 hectares to 260 hectares in size.

Burgess says fire crews have several objectives for Saturday, not the least of which is the continued protection of the power line which feeds power to 60,000 people in Peachland, West Kelowna, WFN and rural properties.

He says at one point the fire got right to the edge of the hydro right-of-way.

Bombers have built a retardant line along that right-of-way. There is also a machine guard and a crew with pumps and hoses working the area.

Burgess says he feels comfortable with that area.

"The area that is of more concern is where the power line comes back down the hill. There we have some unburned fuels between the power lines and the fire," says Burgess.

"We do have a cat (machine) guard in between there but I like to have a guard right up next to the fire before I start to feel quite comfortable."

As for homes, Burgess says the one home at the end of Dixie Road, which was believed to have burned Thursday, remains standing along with outbuildings on the property.

"Chief (Wayne) Schnitzler had a platoon there...they did a lot of work putting a sprinkler line around the home and whacked a lot of high weeds down around the home," says Burgess.

"Happy to say that as of this morning it's still standing. The field around it is black but the structure and all the outbuildings are fine."

He says the fire is about 100 metres from that home while the closest it has been able to get to any subdivision is about 300 metres.

As for Saturday, Burgess says crews will continue to build guards around the fire while planes bombard the fire with water.

He says crews continue to work the east flank putting in a fuel free line and a hose line.

They are also working the top of the fire where there is only a retardant line.

"We have made good progress on the east side and along the bottom by the structures."

Approximately 20 regional firefighters are working the blaze with another 65 firefighters from the BC Wildfire branch.


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