Image taken on July 7. Matti J. Lagerborn photo.

July 19: The Elephant Hill (formerly Ashcroft Reserve) fire jumping the Bonaparte River is not a concern at this time

Unsettled weather expected

10 p.m. update: The Elephant Hill (formerly Ashcroft Reserve) fire jumping the Bonaparte River is not a concern at this point, according to Fire Information Officer Claire Allen.

“It is moving towards to Bonaparte River but we are still a ways off from that.”

Firefighters are still working on building a guard on that side, according to Allen.

“The access is quite tricky as well as the terrain. There’s a fair number of gullies and just difficult access in general for crews so that is something that our operations group will be making a main priority in the objectives going forward from today.”

There was a fair bit of smoke produced by the fire that was visible from Cache Creek, according to Allen.

“Division A [southern portion] did a fairly successful burnoff operation today. That’s great, we’ve tied that piece together.”

The burnoff operation produced a smoke that may have looked like a fair amount of fire activity, but at least for Division A that was from the burnoff, says Allen.

On the Clinton side of things, burnoffs are planned for tomorrow and Friday but the weather will play a factor according to Allen.

“We are planning to [do burnoffs]. Tomorrow and Friday, beginning tonight, it looks like there is a bit of unsettled weather coming. So some localized thunderstorm [with a] possibility for localized downpour, which would be lucky, but again winds will be stronger. So with controlled burns, we really have to watch for weather conditions, especially those that’ll change quickly as that’ll hinder our ability to have successful burnoff operations.”

Original story: There is rank 4 and 5 fire on the Elephant Hill (formerly known as Ashcroft Reserve) fire today, according to Fire Information Officer Mike McCulley.

“Today it remains hot and dry in the area and we’ve got some winds out of the south again so similar to yesterday, we’ve got a pretty active front on the fire on the north east corner. Anytime we get those conditions again we gonna see that rank 4, 5 type of fire behaviour, which is pretty extreme fire conditions.”

Rank 4 indicates highly vigorous surface fire with torching or passive crown fire. Rank 5 indicates extremely vigorous surface fire or active crown fire. Read more on ranks.

“Often really challenging for our crews to get out in front of it and do their work.”

Related: Firefighters and volunteers gather to welcome returning Cache Creek residents

McCulley says they are hoping for some cooler flows so crews can get in to get containment.

“The fire continues to grow towards the Bonaparte River, I can’t tell you exactly how close it is right now. When you have [a fire] that’s 50-plus thousand hectares in size it becomes really challenging… We know it’s there, we know it’s moving north but again our crews are doing their good hard work and trying their best to gain that containment like we’ve seen on the west flank of the fire. We’re making great progress there along the highway [97] and we’re going to continue that effort.”

There are over 50 pieces of equipment which is “quite a large number,” according to McCulley, who adds that they’re using burnoff operations extensively to help support the guard lines.

McCulley wants people to be aware of the area restriction and that people can’t go in the area. It’s really important for safety and to allow crews to work effectively without interference.

There is some positive news, says McCulley.

“Division A [the southern part of the fire] is probably our closest thing we have to a great success story right now. We have made great progress. There’s still a little bit of burnoff to be done on the north-west tip [of Division A] towards Bonaparte, but I can’t thank those crews enough for what they’ve done up in there. We’ve had good success. We can see smoke off of Division A from the burnoff but we’re very close to having that section pretty well contained.

“It’s really tricky to get around the fire and map it when there are large columns of smoke and heat,” he says. “People have to remember too that all of the area inside the red circle that we call the fire hasn’t burned off. So, sometimes when you see large columns of smoke coming off, it’s stuff that’s already included inside the red circle.”

 

July 15 Elephant Hill fire perimeter map.

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