Salmon Arm  

Two Mile wildfire burning away from Sicamous, still estimated 1,000 hectares

No change in Two Mile fire

UPDATE: 6:05 p.m.

Firefighters continue to battle the Two Mile Road wildfire, still an estimated 1,000 hectares in size, according to the BC Wildfire Service.

In an information meeting hosted Sunday by the District of Sicamous and the Shuswap Emergency Program, Alan Berry, incident commander assigned to the blaze, said the focus of firefighting crews has been on the north and south perimeter.

“Going up the slopes, focusing on the flanks, trying to put out just the first 100 feet of perimeter to stop it from actually growing laterally towards the communities, Swansea to the south and Sicamous to the north,” Berry said.

He said the fire is currently moving slowly, “not moving with a ton of growth, but it’s still a lot of work.”

Berry said firefighting resources are thin, but after touring the north flank of the wildfire, he was “blown away” by the work completed so far to establish hose lays around parts of the blaze, especially as they are working in steep terrain.

“We continue [to] just push in from the perimeter in, and leave the interior to burn. So you will continue to see smoke from town. The smoke that’s in the air is from this fire, and multiple other fires, but it is to our advantage,” Berry said.

“It does limit our ability to use aircraft for suppression because obviously they need to see, to be able to drop buckets and to safely fly around, but it also takes down the temperatures, and we're definitely seeing that on the fire.”

There are 32 firefighters and three helicopters assigned to the blaze, with crews using 10 pieces of heavy equipment, according to the BC Wildfire Service.

There are also crews from the Sicamous and Swansea fire departments helping to fight the wildfire.

Brett Ogino, Fire Chief for the District of Sicamous, said there are two bush trucks, two structural engines, two structural tenders and two structure protection crews on scene to help fight the blaze.

Ogino said structure protection crews have done assessments and triage on a number of buildings in the area.

“Some folks are a little concerned that their place isn’t sprinklered. We have limited resources, so our job is to make sure that we manage those resources,” Ogino said.

“With the fire behaviour being not quite as crazy and the fire being up higher, that’s to our advantage. It gives our crews a little bit of a chance to get sorted, and we're operating very efficiently now that we have our crews tuned in.”

Tracy Hughes, communications coordinator for the Columbia Shuswap Regional District and public information officer for the emergency operations centre, encouraged residents to check the CSRD website or the Shuswap Emergency Program website for updates.

Hughes said they launched Alertable, a new emergency mass notification system on Friday.

“You can get notifications by text, you can get notifications by email. And if you have bad internet, we don't all have good internet, if you've got a landline phone, it's going to alert to your phone. You can set it up and it's going to call you and let you know about an emergency alert,” Hughes said.

While earlier alert notifications will not be in the system, Hughes said any alerts going forward will be sent to residents who sign up for the system.

The highway to the area remains closed.

Ogino said their engines have been patrolling the highway to put out hot spots, and said although it has “calmed down considerably,” the road is still dangerous.

“The challenge is the area that's burned above is dropping trees on the power lines. We had one of our engines get stuck in behind a fairly sizeable tree that came right down to the highway. If it hit that truck it would have damaged it pretty severely and potentially injured our crew,” Ogino said.

“BC Wildfire Services, as far as I understand, is looking to bring in some danger tree fellers and get that cleaned up so we can open it as quickly as we can. But right now, I'm concerned for my crew is driving up and down that, so I certainly wouldn't want the public and a whole stream of traffic going through there, it's just an accident waiting to happen.”

UPDATE 11:14 a.m.

BC Wildfire Service still has 28 firefighters working the fire, today, Structural Protection Units (SPU) remain on scene and have day and night crews set up, says the Columbia Shuswap Regional District.

The highway remains closed and there are no changes to evacuation orders and alerts.

At this time getting accurate mapping is difficult due to the smoke conditions hampering the aerial surveys.

The blaze is still estimated to be over 1,000 hectares in size.

ORIGINAL 6:58 a.m.

The Two Mile Road wildfire near Sicamous continues to burn away from the community.

A Saturday night update from the BC Wildfire Service still lists the fire as having burned an estimated 1,000-plus hectares.

The fire remains out of control.

Growth was reported away from Sicamous on Saturday, and crews are making good progress holding the fire guard with assistance from industry contractors, the wildfire service says.

Evacuation orders and alerts remain in place.

On Saturday, there were 32 firefighters battling the fire, along with three helicopters and 10 pieces of heavy equipment.

The BC Wildfire Service continues to assist the Sicamous and Swansea Point fire department.

Crews will continue to work with heavy equipment and industry partners to increase the guard around the fire.

Janet Coburn

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