Premier John Horgan (left) and Ashcroft Indian Band chief Greg Blain view damage from the Elephant Hill wildfire, which is now 50 per cent contained. Photo by Barbara Roden.

Premier John Horgan (left) and Ashcroft Indian Band chief Greg Blain view damage from the Elephant Hill wildfire, which is now 50 per cent contained. Photo by Barbara Roden.

Elephant Hill wildfire now 50 per cent contained

Evacuation Alerts changed to All Clear in Cache Creek, Clinton, and the Chasm Mill site.

The Elephant Hill wildfire has grown to 175,185 hectares, but the BC Wildfire Service has stated that the growth is due to better visibility and mapping, enabling them to better measure the fire’s size. The fire is listed as active and out of control, but as of the time of writing on August 29 the fire has been listed as 50 per cent contained, with no reported growth of the fire perimeter over the last few days.

Crews have made excellent progress on containment and contingency lines on the northeast, northwest, and southeast flanks of the fire. Some increased fire behaviour is anticipated with the return to warm conditions, and surrounding communities will see increased smoke as a result.

The most active part of the fire is south of Hihium Lake on the fire’s southeast flank, where easterly winds pushed the fire into green pockets of unburnt fuel within the existing fire perimeter to produce a visible smoke column. Crews and aviation resources are working to address this area, and have worked hard to put in containment lines and extinguish perimeter hot spots.

Crews and heavy equipment continue to build contingency lines to the northeast of the fire using existing natural features and road systems, working up from the Young Lake area to the north and then to the west to tie in with the fire’s north flank. The fire remains south of Green Lake at this time, and is not currently threatening the Interlakes area.

On August 25 the Thompson-Nicola Regional District said that because the Elephant Hill Wildfire no longer posed an imminent risk to life and properties, Evacuation Alerts were rescinded and changed to All Clear for the Villages of Cache Creek and Clinton, as well as the Chasm Mill site. Partial Evacuation Alerts were rescinded and replaced with All Clear for Electoral Area “E” (Bonaparte Plateau) and Electoral Area “I” (Blue Sky Country).

On the same date, a partial Evacuation Order was rescinded and changed to an Alert for Electoral Area “I” (Blue Sky Country).

In an encouraging sign that the wildfire threat across the province is slowly receding, Emergency Management BC announced, on August 25, that the media advisories that have been held daily at 1 p.m. for several weeks were being scaled back to Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays only as of August 28. However, it was noted that should the situation change and warrant a return to a daily call, an updated advisory would be issued.

An open house was held on August 26 for Loon Lake property owners who are preparing to build or repair structures in the Loon Lake area. It was an opportunity for Loon Lake property owners to discuss the challenges and potential solutions of the planning, building, and repairing process.

Specialists from the Thompson-Nicola Regional District in the areas of planning and building, as well as representatives from Interior Health, the Canadian Red Cross, and the United Way, were on hand to talk with residents about individual questions and concerns face-to-face.

The TNRD continues to look at properties that have been impacted by the fire. For information on properties located within the fire area, contact the TNRD at (250) 377-7188. Structural protection crews continue to support the BC Wildfire Service, and every effort is being made to protect homes and infrastructure.

Approximately 526 personnel are currently assigned to the Elephant Hill wildfire. This number includes 378 firefighters, 17 helicopters, 100 pieces of heavy equipment, an Incident Management Team, structural protection personnel, and numerous support personnel working in various operational, administrative, communications, and logistics roles.