Smoke from backburning north of Cache Creek on July 14.                                Barbara Roden

Smoke from backburning north of Cache Creek on July 14. Barbara Roden

Ashcroft Reserve fire estimated to be 42,300 hectares

It’s very calm winds right now, probably as calm as it’s been in the last two days

10:21 p.m. update: The size of the Ashcroft Reserve fire is now estimated at 42,300 hectares according to Fire Information Officer Mike McCulley.

“It’s a very big active fire and the northern head is the active front. It’s grown significantly in that area over the last several days.”

The Fire was very active in the Loon Lake area today according to McCulley.

“I know that tonight we have crews working in those areas along the highway specifically at the Loon Lake Junction and between Highway 99 and the Loon Lake turnoff. We know the fire burned very close to the Highway [97] but it did not cross the highway as of tonight.”

“Crews are working pretty hard to keep it there and protect some of the life and property in that area. Loon Lake area it’s just really to say what happened in there quite yet.”

“It’s very calm winds right now, probably as calm as it’s been in the last two days, but the reason why it’s calm is because there’s a cold front moving across. It’s cooler here and we know that the winds are going to shift and come from the north for the next several hours and that’s going to happen through the night tonight as the cold front passes over,” he says.

“Of course the fire will grow tonight, it’s a huge fire it’s been growing every day as far to where and how much, we really don’t know. We’re watching the winds very closely just as the rest of the province is.”

Original story: Crews continue to battle the Ashcroft Reserve wildfire that is raging through the Central Interior, and which has caused the evacuation of hundreds of people. Loon Lake was on evacuation order as of July 14, with Clinton an evacuation alert.

“The fire behaviour through the central part of the province is very extreme,” Mike McCulley, a fire information officer for the BC Wildfire Service, told The Journal on the evening of July 15. “The fire is growing to the north around Loon Lake, and showing very significant fire behaviour.”

He says that crews are now waiting for a cold front to come through the area, which will see the wind switch from blowing from the southwest to blowing from the north. “The head of the fire won’t be the head anymore.”

McCulley says that crews have been out there using all their tools, including burnoffs and fire breaks. “The focus is on where life and property are at stake. Crews are heavily embedded around 16 Mile, and they will keep working on that area, but sometimes you just have to get out of the way, for safety.”

He says that crews are braced for a big night, and are working hard. “But people need to pay close attention to the TNRD website (www.tnrd.ca); you’ll find information [about evacuation orders and alerts] there. Be on extremely high alert, and ready to go at a moment’s notice. Stay calm and listen to officials.”

McCulley notes that people on evacuation alert can leave if they want to, and do not have to wait for an evacuation order. The Village of Clinton had one bus leave for Kamloops on the evening of July 15, with another bus planned for July 16 for those who have mobility, health, or transportation concerns.

“Clinton is being very proactive,” says McCulley. “Watch the TNRD website closely. And we’re encouraging people to watch out for each other.”