Smoke from a controlled burnoff on the Ashcroft Reserve west of Ashcroft in the evening of July 12.                                Barbara Roden

Smoke from a controlled burnoff on the Ashcroft Reserve west of Ashcroft in the evening of July 12. Barbara Roden

Controlled burnoff begins on Ashcroft Reserve fire

Plus a resiliency centre for evacuees opens in Kamloops, and Highway 1 information near Ashcroft.

BC Wildfire Service crews are conducting controlled burnoff operations on the Ashcroft Reserve wildfire. This activity may continue for the next few days. The objectives are to slow the growth and spread of the fire and to establish a clear and safe perimeter where ground crews can work.

These controlled burns will increase the amount of smoke in the area, and significant smoke columns may be visible over the next several days. Burnoff operations will be supported by aircraft during and following the operation.

As of the afternoon of July 12, the Ashcroft Reserve fire covered about 10,600 hectares. Currently, 190 firefighters are on site with eight pieces of heavy equipment, air support, an Incident Management Team, and additional support staff.

The public is reminded that the Ashcroft Reserve fire is still classified as “out of control”. Prolonged hot and dry conditions may cause changes to the fire’s behaviour and smoke patterns, so residents are encouraged to remain vigilant.

BC Hydro and Telus crews are hard at work in the Ashcroft area to restore landline, cell, and Internet service and replace the hydro equipment that was destroyed or damaged. Until this work is completed, it could be difficult for people to reach family and friends in the village, so do not assume the worst if you are unable to contact someone.

Volunteer firefighters in Ashcroft and Cache Creek continue to conduct regular patrols of the area, and assist the BC Wildfire Service when required.

There is no word as to when the Evacuation Order for the Village of Cache Creek will be lifted. According to the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, the situation is being assessed on a daily basis.

Cornwall Road through the Ashcroft Reserve is still closed because of work crews repairing downed lines and equipment. There are also controlled burns going on in the area to reduce the risk of more wildfires.

The Travel Centre at Cornwall Road and Highway 1 is intact. Reports indicate that the Band Office, Health Centre, and church are also intact.

An Emergency Operation Centre EOC) has been set up for AIB members at the River Inn in Ashcroft.

Highway 1 remains closed to all traffic (except first responders and emergency personnel) from 10km south of Cache Creek to 5km east of the village. All area restrictions on Highway 97C have been lifted. Ashcroft residents—and those travelling through from Logan Lake and points east—can access the coast via Highway 97C from Ashcroft to Highway 1 and then turn south.

Ashcroft RCMP Sgt. Kathleen Thain says that while Ashcroft residents travelling north from the coast can take Highway 1 to 97C and then come into Ashcroft, those who just want to visit should postpone their trip until another time. “Police suggest you stay away if you’re just visiting,” she says, noting that with things as they are, police would rather not have to worry about even more people in the town.

She adds that those who are coming to pick up someone and take them elsewhere during the current situation are fine. Thain notes, however, that the resident who is leaving should let someone else in town know, in case of an emergency.

“Let someone else in the community know you’re going, so we don’t have to worry about you.”

The (TNRD) has opened a resiliency centre in Kamloops as of Thursday, July 13 at 12 noon. It will be open until 4 p.m. on the 13th, and starting on Friday, July 14 will be open seven days a week, from 10 am to 4 pm. The resiliency centre will be located at the City of Kamloops’ Soccer Central Lounge and Meeting Room at 1550 Island Parkway on McArthur Island.

Evacuees are encouraged to check the centre’s hours on the TNRD’s website (www.tnrd.ca) before visiting.

The resiliency centre will provide resources for evacuees, including insurance advice from the Insurance Bureau of Canada and insurers. The centre will also house a variety of non-governmental agencies (NGOs) that will be able to provide services for evacuees. Service Canada will also be located at the centre.

The BC Wildfire Service is urging members of the public to stay away from active wildfires wherever they may be in the province. British Columbia’s fire management professionals, hardworking firefighters, aircraft crews, and contracted firefighters need plenty of room to do this challenging work.

The presence of unauthorized people in these areas represents a significant safety threat: not only for the people attempting to gain access, but also for the crew members who need to concentrate on containing and extinguishing these fires.

The public is reminded that they are not permitted to enter areas where an area restriction order is in place and they should also avoid going near any active wildfire site. This is a great concern for the BC Wildfire Service, given the inherent risks associated with wildfires. Although some people may feel compelled to “help out”, they can actually interfere with and delay firefighting efforts.

Many of the fires currently burning in British Columbia have displayed aggressive, volatile and unpredictable fire behaviour. It is extremely unsafe for people other than authorized and trained personnel to go near these fires.