Heat wave sparks North Okanagan wildfire growth

The Lumby area has four fires of note.

UPDATE TUESDAY, 11 A.M.:

The Okanagan heat wave has sparked increased fire behaviour at several major blazes burning in the area.

The Lumby area has four fires of note: Mabel Creek, Harris Creek, Sugar Mountain and Procter Road. There are also a number of spot-sized fires in the area.

Within the Vernon Fire Zone, the Monte Creek fire is also considered a fire of note, at 114 hectares but it is 100 per cent guarded.

“Because of the current drying trend…we have been experiencing active fire behaviour for the all fires,” said Rosalie MacAulay, fire information officer.

“To this point there hasn’t been anything that has jumped our containment lines.”

More accurate sizes have been determined, due to updated mapping, for the Mabel and Procter fires.

The Mabel Creek fire, approximately 6.5 kilometres from Mabel Lake, sits at 86.5 hectares.

There are 25 firefighters on scene and five helicopters available up in the area. Tolko is also assisting with equipment.

The Procter Road fire has grown to 52.5 hectares, due to more accurate mapping.

“They do have a containment line all the way around it,” said MacAulay, adding that 13 crew members are on scene.

Residents may notice some additional action at the 260-hectare Harris Creek blaze.

“Today there might be some planned ignitions, in the north west area. It will either be the crews lighting or using the helicopters dropping the dragon balls.”

There is a unit crew on scene at Harris and again the five helicopters in the area available. Tolko is also assisting at Harris Creek.

Over at Sugar Mountain, industry personnel and equipment are working on the fire and BC Wildfire operational staff are on scene, but no actual wildfire crews.

Forest use restrictions remain in place at Sugar Mountain and Mabel Creek wildfires. An evacuation alert also remains in place for approximately 50 cabins at Mabel Lake and the Cottonwood Beach recreation site.

These restrictions remain in place until noon on Sept. 15 or until rescinded.

UPDATE: 6:38 p.m.

The Harris Creek fire burning approximately 16 km southeast of Lumby has grown to 260 hectares in size.

BC Wildfire Service reported on Monday afternoon that an air tanker request will be evaluated and considered for this wildfire as a precautionary measure.

“If conditions permit, planned ignitions may occur on the north-northwest flank,” the Service reported on their website. “Smoke will be visible as a result of the planned ignitions and may also be visible as a result of natural fire behaviour.”

The Harris Creek fire was deemed out of control and had 20 firefighters working on it as of Monday afternoon. The cause was deemed to be from a lightning strike.

The Sugar Mountain fire, 4 km east of Sugar Lake, was at 170 hectares Monday at noon. It is also considered out of control.

Meanwhile, the Proctor Road fire approximately 16 km northeast of Lumby was an estimated 20 hectares in size Monday.

“The crews have a machine guard on the north end of the perimeter on flat ground, and they also have a fuel-free zone around the entire perimeter of the Proctor Road wildfire,” the Service reported.

This fire is deemed out of control, and the cause is still under investigation.

SUNDAY, AUG. 5

An Incident Management Team was transitioning into control of the management of the Mabel Creek, Sugar Mountain and Proctor Road wildfires burning in the North Okanagan.

“We’re just taking the fires over. They’re just assessing everything right now,” said Rosalie MacAulay, fire information officer.

These fires are three of multiple fire starts in the drainages of Mabel and Sugar lakes from Highway 6 in the south to Three Valley Gap in the north. Several of the fires, including Sugar Mountain and Mabel Creek fires, has grown beyond the initial attack stage.

“Local forest companies have engaged heavy equipment and personnel on these fires,” McAulay said. “Three helicopters are available as needed.”

As of Sunday afternoon, 13 firefighters were on the scene of the Proctor Road fire.

Related: Monte Lake wildfire ‘being held’

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Original

Area restrictions are now in effect for Sugar Mountain and Mabel Creek wildfires.

Effective immediately, area restrictions for Crown land in the vicinity of the Sugar Mountain and Mabel Creek wildfires are in effect to protect public safety, ensure the safety of firefighting personnel and deter interference with wildfire-control activities.

These restrictions remain in place until 12 p.m. on Sept. 15, 2018, or until rescinded.

Related: Evacuation alert issued around Mabel Lake

Related: Sugar Mountain fire grows

Under these Orders and section 11(2) of the Wildfire Act, a person must not remain in or enter the restricted areas without the prior written authorization of an official designated for the purposes of the Wildfire Act, unless the person enters the area only in the course of travelling as a person acting in an official capacity and travelling for the purpose of supporting wildfire suppression activities.

After a brief reprieve, lightning has struck again and sparked four new fires in the North Okanagan Saturday, Aug. 4.

According to the BC Wildfire Service, the largest of those fires is located northwest of Green Bush Lake and measures 5.9 hectares in size. Southwest of the lake, another fire is burning at 2.1 hectares.

East of Tsuius Mountain, the service has mapped a fire at 4.8 hectares that was also suspected to be caused by lightning Saturday.

A 0.1hectare fire near Hound Creek was also reported Saturday as well as a 0.01 blaze near Devil Creek, reported Sunday, with no known cause.

As of Sunday morning, the service has not released any new information about the largest fires in the North Okanagan – the Mabel Creek fire that sits at 200 hectares, the Sugar Mountain fire at 170 hectares, the fire near Monte Lake at 60 hectares and the Proctor Road blaze at 20 hectares.

Related: Monte Lake fire grows to 60 hectares

As of Sunday morning, the service notes 24 active fires in the area between Vernon and the Mabel Range.

To report a wildfire or open burning violation, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free, or *5555 on a cell phone.

Further information about fires in the area will follow as updates become available.

To report a typo, email: newstips@vernonmorningstar.com.


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