The Elephant Hill fire passed along Highway 97 before burning where it is now. Photo taken July 23. Tara Sprickerhoff photo.

Increased resources on fire

Yesterday saw increased fire behaviour on the Elephant Hill fire on both the southern and northern flanks, says Fire Information Officer Claire Allen.

“That’s been due to the variable winds we’ve had and the topography that facilitates fire growth a little faster in those areas,” she says. “For the mot part it stayed fairly static within the perimeter.”

Plumes of smoke were visible from the Clinton area, as well as on the hill above Cache Creek.

Neither community is currently in danger, however. The fire has remained on the south side of the Bonaparte River near Clinton, and the BC Wildfire Service is working on completing hand guards to the southeast edge where bulldozers are unable to access.

‘It’s been a concern of residents in Clinton that it has crossed the Bonaparte and is coming towards Clinton but that is just not the case at this time,” says Allen.

“We had a lot of new firefighters come in yesterday. We’ve got 4 B.C. unit crews as well as a unit crew from Ontario and those are replacing some crews that have reached their 14 day operational limit, but by the mid part of this week we should have 400 total personnel assigned to this incident. With the extended fire behaviour, we are increasing our resources accordingly and we are reallocating them as need-be given the increased fire behaviour in different parts of the fire,” she says.

The service also ran an infrared scan throughout Division A (near Ashcroft) as well as the Loon Lake area to determine where remaining hotpots were within those areas.

“We can send crews to extinguish remaining heat that may not be as easily visible from the ground,” says Allen.

She says fire sometimes smolders in root systems or underground in the dust layer.

During the next few days, the fire service is looking into conducting controlled burns to remove fuel from the fire’s path.

“That really helps maintain the fire’s growth and limit it by removing excess fuel. It helps us control the fire and if there is nothing for the fire to consume then the fire is going to die.”

Until now, the weather has not been conducive to conducting those burns.

“Folks in the area may see increased smoke and some of that will still be from active parts of the wildfire and some of that will be from our crews conducting controlled ignitions as is possible,” says Allen.

“We have ample resources to monitor the situation as well as aviation support for bucketing and surveillance.”

Related: Elephant Hill fire perimeter mapped at 61,499 hectares.