Update: Snowy Mountain fire now 10,911 hectares in size

BC Wildfire Crews and Keremeos Volunteer firefighters working hard to control fire

Update 7:45 p.m.

More accurate mapping shows the Snowy Mountain fire has grown to 10, 911 hectares in size.

“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,” a release from BC Wildfire stated.

BC Wildfire map of Snowy Mountain fire Aug. 3, 2018. (screengrab)

The Keremeos Volunteer Fire Department along with BC Wildfire crews will continue to patrol for spot fires throughout the night.

Residents are urged to stay away from roads where crews are working. Those that do go out to see the fire are reminded to pull far off the roadway for yours and others safety.


Update 6:30 p.m.

Earlier today the Lower Similkameen Indian Band rescinded one evacuation order and put in place a larger order for 17 homes on on Chopaka Road threatened by the out of control Snowy Mountain wildfire.

The new evacuation order is for homes on Indian Reserve 7 and 8 and include 525; 560; 710; 725; 745; 791; 800; 830; 831; 840; 844; 852; 854; 856; 880; 885; and 891 Chopaka Road.

A view from Chopaka Road taken about 12 p.m. Aug. 3 the day the order was issued. (Teddy Lind photo)

“The evacuation order will remain in effect until the primary response agency has notified the Lower Similkameen Indian Band that the threat to health and safety of the community members and property has diminished and can be rescinded,” a release from the LSIB and posted to Facebook stated.

An evacuation order for five properties, impacting eight families, Indian Reserve 2 west of Susap Creek Road was rescinded. The order was issued a day earlier.

Related: Breaking: Snowy Mountain wildfire jumps Similkameen River


Update: 3:31 p.m.

BC Wildfire Service said the Snowy Mountain wildfire is now estimated to be 10,300 hectares in size.

That estimate may change once a more accurate fire perimeter can be mapped once the smoke dissipates.

Crews are being supported by bucketing helicopters are they work south to conduct burn-offs as safe conditions allow to remove fuel from the slopes adjacent to properties in order to stop the forward progression of the fire.


Update: 11:45 a.m.

An evacuation order has been issued for three properties in the vicinity of the Chopaka Bridge, due to the Snowy Mountain wildfire.

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen said the evacuation order is in effect for:

1049 Chopaka Road

1050 Chopaka Road

1101 Chopaka Road

District lot 1186, land district Similkameen Division of Yale – except plan B1006, B6433 DD 1315

On Thursday, the Lower Similkameen Indian Band issued an evacuation order for Similkameen I.R. No. 2 West in the vicinity of Susap Creek Road.

A state of local emergency has been declared south of Cawston, in electoral Area B. This allows local authorities to utilize emergency powers, including the authority to order the evacuation of residents from their homes.


Update: 11:15 a.m.

Sixty firefighters, three helicopters and four pieces of heavy equipment are actioning the Snowy Mountain Fire.

Claire Allen, fire information officer for BC Wildfire, said Snowy Mountain, located about 14 kilometres south of Keremeos, and Placer Mountain, 36 kilometres southwest of Keremeos are considered a complex of fires.

“Because of this we’re able to share resources really quickly between the two fires,” she said.

On Friday, 77 firefighters, nine helicopters, and 14 pieces of heavy equipment were being used on the Placer Mountain fire, which was considered 50 per cent contained at the time of this posting.

A view of the Snowy Mountain fire taken near Cawston Aug. 2.(Joe Lebeau/Hashmark Photography)

Allen noted the Snowy Mountain fire is offering up several big challenges for BC Wildfire crews.

The terrain makes fighting the fire on the ground often inoperable and high winds ranging from 15 kilometres in excess of 50 kilometres often changing directions, is fuelling the fire.

But, cooler temperatures Friday and the chance of rain are plusses in the fight against Snowy Mountain, Allen said.

Check back here more updates throughout the day.


Update: 8:30 a.m.

Twenty-five BC Wildfire Service members along with members of the Keremeos Fire Department worked the spot fire in the area of Beecroft River Road overnight and into Friday morning.

(Photo courtesy Joe Lebeau/Hashmark Photography)

An update Friday morning noted high winds caused the Snowy Mountain fire to jump to the east side of the Similkameen River less than 1,000 metres from Beecroft River Road.

Related: BC Wildfire to call in help from other provinces, countries

Claire Allen, fire information officer for BC Wildfire, said crews are still on scene, but at last update “ the spot fire wasn’t posing a concern.”

“We don’t anticipate it growing…. Usually with spot fires we classify them as held instead of contained because it’s considered a fire within a fire and as a whole it is not contained,” Allen said.

When the spot fire jumped the river, patrol crews made up of BC Wildfire and Keremeos Volunteer Fire Department members immediately radioed it in.

“We shifted some of our night crews working on the west side of the river to the east side and they worked with the local fire department in conjunction with some contractors,” she said. “Certainly with it spotting over it was a huge concern for residents on the east side.”

(Photo courtesy of Joe Lebeau/Hashmark Photography)

Allen said crews are working the fire day and night to protect homes and the community at large.

“Fire is a natural phenomena. It changes as quickly as the weather changes, really… It’s going to change and keep evolving. People need to know we are responding with all resources that we have and using all proven suppression tehniques to keep structures and communities safe.”

Related: Breaking: Snowy Mountain wildfire jumps Similkameen River

She noted suppression teams had setup pumps and sprinkler systems on properties most at risk Thursday during the day and at night. On Thursday night, at homes on Beecroft River Road the Keremeos fire department and water trucks were on scene in case embers ignited a spot fire near structures.

Allen said at the time of the call no structures had been lost to the fire.

She added evaucation alerts to Lower Similkameen Indian Band properties earlier in the day Thursday were a precaution as the fire had pushed down slope overnight and those were closest homes to it.

Crews did burnoffs to remove fire load on the slope near those properties Thursday.

BC Wildfire will continue doing burnoffs in several areas along the fire from the valley bottom up up slope as far as possible, she said.

There is a chance of showers today and temperatures are expected to be cooler with a high of 25 C and mix of sun and cloud.

A view of the Snowy Mountain fire during the morning of Aug. 4, 2018.(Photo courtesy of Xander Terbasket)


Keremeos firefighters were kept busy with two incidents in the area of Beecroft River Road in Cawston Thursday night as the Snowy Mountain fire aggressively travelled downslope, tossing embers, and other fire debris.

High winds helped fuel the fire to jump the Similkameen River in one area.

Jordy Bosscha, fire chief for the Keremeos Volunteer Fire Department said about 20 local firefighters helped in the two incidents.

“We had two patrols on tonight. Both were out patrolling when these incidents came up and then we called in more people. We had all four trucks out including our two bush trucks,” he said. “It was a great turnout.”

Keremeos firefighters worked in conjunction with BC Wildfire crews on both incidents.

At about 10 p.m. Thursday night BC Wildfire issued a release stating, “Due to strong winds coming downslope tonight up to 50 km/hr, fire activity continues to be highly vigorous – the fire has spotted across the Similkameen River to the east side in an oxbow along the riverbank. The spot is located about one-kilometre south of the end of Beecroft, it is approximately one hectare in size burning in a deciduous fuel type and brush. Crews are responding to right now in conjunction with the Keremeos Fire Department and heavy equipment is en route.”

Bosscha confirmed the BC Wildfire release that the fire did indeed jump the river and further clarified that it was burning in an area that had a high load of flash fuels including tall grasses and dead cottonwood trees that could easily have caught and quickly gotten out of control.

“We worked hard to knock it down and it’s looking good now,” he said at about 12:30 a.m. Friday morning.

Related: Keremeos firefighters working night patrols as Snowy Mountain fire rains ash, embers

The Keremeos fire department had one of their water trucks on scene and actioned the fire.

At the same time, on Beecroft River Road the threat of falling embers near homes prompted crews to take precautionary measures to protect threatened structures.

Firefighters worked to evacuate the road where a large number of onlookers gathered throughout the evening. The road was closed to non-local traffic and secured by Keremeos volunteer firefighters.

(Photo courtesy of Joe Lebeau/Hashmark Photography)

“We were just preparing. Embers and debris had fallen in the area and we wanted to be prepared,” he said.

Water was brought in in water trucks and the fire trucks, lines were setup.

Bosscha said at 12:30 a.m Friday, no water had been used as no falling debris ended up catching fire in the area.

“It was all very precautionary,” he said.

Bosscha urged residents not to go out fire-seeking and if they do to pull-off the road completely and only park in safe spaces.

He noted RCMP did attend the scene throughout the evening and were removing people from being in the vicinity.

“It’s the same old, same old. Someone one day will get hurt,” he said.

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A view of the Snowy Mountain fire near Cawston the morning of Aug. 4, 2018. (Max Factor) A view of the Snowy Mountain fire near Cawston the morning of Aug. 4, 2018. (Max Factor)

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