Wildfire south of Cranbrook grows by more than 130 hectares in windy conditions

Wind drives fire growth

UPDATE 8:15 p.m.

The Connell Ridge fire grew again on Wednesday.

It is now listed at 632 hectares, up from 500 hectares earlier in the day.

The BC Wildfire Service had anticipated growth due to stronger winds in the area and says the fire could continue to expand into the evening.

ORIGINAL 3:15 p.m.

A wildfire burning south of Cranbrook has grown to 500 hectares.

The BC Wildfire Service says crews battling the Connell Ridge Wildfire are preparing for an incoming cold front and increased wind.

“Today, ground crews are working on establishing control lines, which look like wide paths where all fuel is removed from the ground,” the agency said on social media.

“Control lines can be built with crews by hand or with heavy equipment like bulldozers and excavators. They vary in size depending on the size of the fire. Crews will also be busy continuing to set up water delivery systems and preparing for the cold front.”

The fire is burning at high elevation with rank two behaviour. Wildfires in B.C. are ranked one to six, with six being the most severe.

But the increase in winds, up to 25 km/hr, is expected to fan the flames.

“With increased fire behaviour, this fire is expected to grow in size later today and through the evening,” BCWS said.

There are currently 48 ground firefighters, three helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft assigned to the fire. A Conair skimmer crash landed Tuesday while battling the fire, but the pilot is OK.

Heavy equipment strike teams, consisting of six pieces of equipment, are also being dispatched.

The fire was sparked by lightning.

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