UPDATE: 3:55 p.m.
BC Hydro says power has been restored to 99.5 per cent of customers impacted by the Bush Creek East wildfire, as crews restrung the last span of wire on Wednesday.
The wildfire caused extensive damage to the North Shuswap, impacting 22 kilometres of power lines, 430 poles and 52 pieces of other equipment.
“Over the past several weeks, more than 150 workers – both local crews and others from across the province – have worked to restore power to the 4,000 customers that lost power as a result of the wildfire,” BC Hydro said in a news release.
Crews have replaced 427 poles and restrung the last span of wire on Holding Road near Adams Lake yesterday.
BC Hydro says in addition to replacing the damaged infrastructure, crews have also participated alongside first responders and the BC Wildfire Service in an extensive cleanup, removing debris and vegetation from impacted areas.
Crews have also replaced osprey platforms – taller power poles with a dedicated nesting platform separated from electricity infrastructure that are meant to prevent power outages and equipment damage due to nesting.
BC Hydro says residential and commercial customers affected by an evacuation order are eligible to receive a credit for the electricity consumed for the duration of the time they were out of their home, if the order was five days or longer.
ORIGINAL: 12:44 p.m.
American firefighters have joined the battle in the North Shuswap, pushing the total number of wildland firefighters working the Bush Creek East wildfire past 200.
BC Wildfire Service fire information officer Ayden Coray, said the 43,300-hectare wildfire just received 48 personnel from the United States on Thursday, and they are being integrated with BCWS personnel.
Coray said an increase in fire behaviour is expected by the weekend as gusting winds arrive and fuels continue to dry.
“We are expecting a cold front, moving through the region closer to Saturday, bringing increased winds and reducing relative humidity values,” said Coray.
Winds blowing at 15km/h are expected to arrive on the fire by the weekend, bringing gusts up to 40 km/h.
Trace amounts of rain, less than a millimetre, sprinkled the fire on Tuesday, but fire behaviour is expected to increase in lower elevation areas as a drying trend continue.
“Fuels are continuing to dry and we are expecting that fire behaviour to continue to increase as this drying trend continues,” Coray said.
The majority of the fire continues to burn at Rank 1 fire behaviour — described as a smouldering ground fire — with pockets of Rank 2, a low-vigour surface fire.
BCWS said crews will be using direct attack methods on the fire perimeter to prevent growth and extinguish hot spots along the north and west of Bruhn Creek Road, the northwest side of Tsalkom Mountain, east of Banshee Lake, and below Loakin-Bear Creek Road.
Crews supported by heavy equipment are continuing to identify and extinguish hot spots north of Bush Creek FSR and are working to secure the western most fire perimeter north of the FSR near Fadear point.
Crews are continuing to use direct attack methods in the Turtle Valley and Sorrento area, and are patrolling for hotspots east of Phillips Lake.
There are currently 207 wildland firefighters, 35 support staff and 26 pieces of heavy equipment assigned to the fire. Nine helicopters are assigned to the Adams Complex, which includes the Rossmoore Lake wildfire south of Kamloops.