Snowy Mountain fire near Cawston night of Aug. 3, 2018. Joe Lebeau/Hashmark Photography

Night crews continue to fight Snowy Mountain wildfire

Progress also made on Placer Mountain fire

Firefighters are working through the night to battle the Kamloops Fire Centre’s largest blaze.

Night crews will continue to work with the Keremeos Fire Department tonight on the southeast flank of the Snowy Mountain wildfire, mapped at 10,911 hectares, to protect adjacent properties, BC Wildfire Service said in a statement Sunday, Aug. 5.

“The fire remained active today, but was burning primarily within the perimeter,” the statement reads. “The most visibly active part of the fire was within a mountainous bowl and ravine on the northeast of the fire, with a smoke column noticeable from the surrounding area. A new perimeter map will be available tomorrow to reflect recent growth on the fire.”

Related: Snowy Mountain wildfire holding in size in southern B.C.

The fire remains to the west of Chopaka Road, but is burning in a southward direction and the south flank and is approximately 3 kilometres from the United States border. The BC Wildfire Service Incident Management Team assigned to the Snowy Mountain Fire is working collaboratively with the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources given the fire’s proximity to the border and expectation that the fire will continue to move south if prevailing strong winds come from the north.

On Aug. 3-4 overnight, BC Wildfire Service night crews responded in conjunction with the Keremeos Fire Department to prioritize life and safety within the evacuation order area. Additional resources were deployed to assist, including initial attack crews and officers out of Penticton and BC Wildfire Service Incident Management Team staff. Several outbuildings and pieces of equipment were lost, but no primary homes were affected.

Related: Structures still at risk from Snowy Mountain fire

The steep terrain is inoperable in some areas and poses a safety risk to firefighting personnel. Crews are being strategically placed where it is safe and where suppression objectives can be met. Crews are positioned in rotations for 24-hour coverage, working on the south flank to protect communities around where evacuation orders have been implemented. Control lines are being constructed with heavy equipment.

Crews are supported by bucketing helicopters as they work to conduct burn-offs as safe conditions allow to remove fuel from the slopes adjacent to properties in order to halt the forward progression of the fire. Structural protection specialists will continue to assess properties on the valley bottom, moving south along the Chopaka Road down to the United States border.

Smoke is drifting from the incident to adjacent areas, and the smoke column and open flame is visible from the surrounding communities. An Area Restriction Order was put in effect noon, July 28 and on Aug. 03 for Crown land in the vicinity of Placer Lake to protect public safety and the safety of firefighting personnel.

Related: Chopaka properties placed on evacuation alert due to Snowy Mountain fire

Previous evacuation orders and alerts remain in effect.

Progress has also been made on another major fire in the region, the Placer Mountain fire.

Crews have made significant progress on the fire and are holding the perimeter and conducting mop-up.

“If conditions remain ideal today, firefighters will carry out a burn operation in order to remove remaining fuels from the southeast corner,” the Service said Sunday. “Helicopters will be available to support ground crews during burn operations. In addition, crews will patrol and extinguish hot spots on the east and west flank.”

The fire saw growth to the north and west on July 31 due to strong winds and personnel have remapped the perimeter.

@VernonNews
parker.crook@vernonmorningstar.com

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