A smoky sunrise at Canim Lake on Aug. 11. Martina Dopf photo.

Aug. 11: Smoke today due to change in wind direction

“We are going to start seeing a lot of fire activity.”

9 p.m. update: The Elephant Hill fire saw another busy day, says Fire Information Officer Noelle Kekula.

A shift in wind direction saw previously unburnt patches of fuel ignite due to a shift in the winds, she says. Winds that have been steadily pushing south for the past week or so, changed and are now pushing northward.

Additionally, the winds lifted the thick fog of smoke from many fires that has laid over parts of the area for quite a while, allowing people to see more directly the smoke caused by the Elephant Hill fire.

“The inversion lifted and everyone saw the smoke lift in the valley, well it thinned out, and so then people are now seeing the fire,” says Kekula. “The fire has always been active like that, but with it so thick you couldn’t tell.”

The new winds pushed smoke towards the Interlakes, as many in the area noticed.

“It pushed from the south and the smoke from the 117,000 hectare fire had to go somewhere and it went to the next valley which is the Interlakes,” says Kekula.

Division Bravo, the south western flank of the fire north of Highway 99 was also active today.

“It moved to the north, like we expected, and to the west, so it was pushed to the west a bit,” says Kekula, adding the fire pushed back into itself northward, but grew somewhat to the west. That part of the fire remains north of Highway 99.

The fire, to her knowledge, also has not entered the Deadman Valley.

The north and east flanks of the fire were also active today, says Kekula.

While Kekula is not sure by how much, the fire did grow towards Young Lake.

“I don’t know how much yet because of the smoke,” she says, adding that life, property and infrastructure are the top concern for fire crews, and everything is assessed around those priorities.

“With these winds that are predicted for the weekend we are going to start seeing a lot of fire activity and I really now want to emphasize this whole peice,” says Kekula.

“If you are in an order please leave and if you are on alert please be prepared to leave.”

The weather causing the current activity on the fire is expected to last through the weekend.

Earlier in the day, the Cariboo Regional District announced that they are not planning on downgrading any evacuation alerts or orders over the weekend.

“Look how fast these fires change behaviour. It’s something they have to take incredibly seriously,” says Kekula.

“Look at how suddenly it can happen. We don’t want people to put their lives at risk.”

Original story: “So far so good,” says Noelle Kekula, fire information officer for the Elephant Hill Line.

“We’re working really hard and the crews are starting to meet our objectives and we’re going to keep trying to achieve our objectives,” she says.

Overnight, night crews worked on the south western flank of the fire, Division Bravo, north of Highway 99, says Kekula.

“Our priorities still continue to be in that area, in and around the Loon Lake area, that area along the corridors and then that north flank,” she says.

“The control line building on that east flank is doing really well and we’re just waiting on some weather to do some burning operations to tighten that control line.”

Crews will continue to use machines to build control lines and Kekula says crews do some burning operations at a smaller scale daily, but they wait for the conditions to be right to initiate the larger planned ignitions.

A change in weather and wind directions is expected for Saturday.

“We’re hoping with this change in weather that the smoke will clear so that we can start using air support a bit more and just really work on those control lines and burn wherever we can to strengthen and fortify it a bit better.”

Within the fire perimeter, Kekula says people can expect to continue to see fire burning.

“When we have these large scale fires and the fire goes through really quickly, often there will be spots that the fire doesn’t burn so there’s a lot of unburnt fuel within the fire itself. So, if people are driving along Highway 97 or Highway 1 or they are in the area and they see open flame or if they see burning, often it will be the fire itself reigniting itself because of the wind and its just burning — what we say — burning within the black.”

Yesterday, Aug. 10, she says this happened in the Loon Lake area.

“The wind picked up, it reignited the embers and it started burning the unburnt fuels within the black. This is something we are going to see a lot and just don’t panic when you see that.”

Related: Aug. 10: Elephant Hill fire remains largely within perimeter

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