Work continues on Monashee Complex wildfires

Crews will be assisted by helicopters if flying conditions improve

Update: Aug. 19 11:20 a.m.

Crews continue to work on extinguishing the Sugar Mountain wildfire, east of Sugar Lake.

The 332 hectare wildfire is still considered out of control, and there are currently 10 firefighters working alongside five helicopters, ten pieces of heavy equipment and three danger tree assessors/fallers on site to extinguish the fire.

Helicopters that are available to support ground crews are dependent on flying conditions due to lingering smoke that is limiting visibility.

At the Mable Creek wildfire is still burning at an estimated 1,862 hectares.

There are 23 firefighters on scene today working with eight pieces of heavy equipment and five helicopters to assist depending on flying conditions.

BC Wildfire Service has contracted seven danger tree assessors/ fallers due to “a high hazard of danger trees on all of the wildfires we are responding to within the Monashee Complex,” according to the BC Wildfire Service website.

The Harris Creek wildfire, south east of Lumby is still burning at an estimated 508 hectares where 21 firefighters work alongside five helicopters and eight pieces of heavy equipment to contain the fire.

___

Original: Aug. 18

—Roger Knox

Work continues on the wildfires in the North Okanagan’s Monashee Complex.

Information updated on bcfireinfo.for.gov.bc.ca Saturday afternoon, just before 5 p.m., showed the Monashee Complex started at 27 fires and now covers 14 fires in the drainages of Mabel and Sugar lakes from just south of Highway 6 in the south to Three Valley Gap in the north.

The change in number is due to a few factors: the fire at Mabel Creek burned into several smaller fires; some fires are now out or classified as under control; and others have been transferred to the Vernon zone.

The Monashee Complex has three fires of note: Mabel Creek, Sugar Mountain and Harris Creek. These fires are in full response sustained action.

The remainder of the fires burning in the Monashee Complex are either full response monitor-only fires or as full response – modified fires.

Priority fires are assessed and evaluated based on their potential threat first to lives and safety, second to property

and third to values like critical infrastructure and industry interests.

As of Saturday, the Kamloops Fire Centre will be managing the fires within the complex.

If there are new start, Kamloops Fire Centre will collaborate with the Vernon Zone on resourcing options.

Sustained action on the complex’s three priority fires as well as response to Whip Creek and Woodward Creek will continue.

Fire Behaviour Prediction

Low RH’s yesterday. Fire behavior rising today with winds increasing into the afternoon. Smoke may hold temperatures

down, however many areas getting to 30 deg. RH will be fairly low in many areas.

Vernon, Penticton, and Merritt Zones

all have stations reaching danger class 4 and possibly higher as winds increase after lunch.

RELATED: More wildfires discovewred near Lumby, Cherryville

Challenges

Danger trees are a hazard throughout this complex. Many of the fires are burning in high elevation with steep and rocky

terrain. Anticipated challenges include possible new fire starts emerging from holdover lightning strikes, the potential for higher fire behaviour this week and the potential for fire growth.

Crew objectives are to continue with strengthening containment lines, building guard and laying hose.

The IMT is prioritizing fire analysis today. The team’s Fire Behaviour Analyst will be getting accurate sizes of the priority

fires and performing assessments and projections. The FBAN will be assessing overnight growth and developing

operational objectives for the priority fires.

There is an Area Restriction Order along the northeast side of Mabel Lake and a closure along the Mabel Lake FSR to all

recreation traffic from Km 10 (north the Mabel Lake Provincial Park) to Km 59 (at the junction of Highway 1) and all

recreation sites along that road.

There is an Area Restriction Order on northeast side of Sugar Lake, the Sugar Creek

recreation site on the North-East corner of Sugar lake, and the Kate Creek FSR access road.

The exceptions to these Area Restrictions are those persons entering the area only in the course of:

(a) Travelling to or from his or her principle residence, that is not under an evacuation order;

(b) Travelling to or from private or leased property for the purposes of accessing a secondary residence

or recreational property, that is not under an evacuation order;

(c) Travelling as a person acting in an official capacity;

(d) Travelling for the purpose of supporting wildfire suppression activities; or,

(e) Engaging and/or participating in agricultural activities pertaining to livestock management on private

or leased property.

RELATED: Motorists urged to steer clear of Mabel forest road due to wildfires

There have been a number of reports of people violating the area restrictions and the Forest Service Road closure that are in place for the safety of workers as well as for the safety of the public. As such, B.C. Wildfire is working with enforcement

partners to have a higher presence of Natural Resource Officers in the area of the Mabel Lake Forest Service Road.

AIR QUALITY

The North Okanagan air quality index remains at 10+, or very high risk, and is expected to stay through Saturday night and into Sunday morning, according to weather.gc.ca. The index is forecasted to drop to 8, or high risk, for Sunday.

Smoky skies will continue across most of the province for the next few days. Local smoke levels may vary based on wind direction and fire characteristics but, until a significant change in the provincial weather pattern occurs, widespread air quality improvements are not expected.

During a wildfire, smoke conditions can change quickly over short distances and can vary considerably hour-by-hour.

Wildfire smoke is a natural part of our environment but it is important to be mindful that exposure to smoke may affect your health.

People with pre-existing health conditions, the elderly, infants, children and sensitive individuals are more likely to experience health effects from smoke exposure.

For general information about wildfire smoke and your health, contact HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 (toll free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week).

Stay inside if you have breathing difficulties. Find an indoor place that’s cool and ventilated. Using an air conditioner that cools and filters air may help. If you open the windows you may let in more polluted air. If your home isn’t air-conditioned, consider going to a public place (library, shopping mall, recreation centre) that is air-conditioned.

Be air aware! Check your local weather forecasts and alerts so you know when to take extra care.

For more information on current air quality, see: www.bcairquality.ca.

Visit www.airhealth.ca for information on how to reduce your health risk and your personal contribution to pollution levels, as well as for current and forecast AQHI values.

Please continue to monitor alerts and forecasts issued by Environment Canada.

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