The Elephant Hill wildfire has forced the evacuation of the Village of Clinton. Pictured is smoke from the fire as seen in Clinton on July 29, the day the village was evacuated.                                Susan Swan

The Elephant Hill wildfire has forced the evacuation of the Village of Clinton. Pictured is smoke from the fire as seen in Clinton on July 29, the day the village was evacuated. Susan Swan

Police tip line launched as investigation into the Elephant Hill wildfire continues

The fire now covers more then 78,000 hectares.

An investigation into the Elephant Hill wildfire is continuing, with both the RCMP and BC Wildfire Services investigating the cause of the fire. A dedicated RCMP tip line has been activated.

Just before 10 p.m. on Thursday, July 6, 2017, BC Wildfire Services received information that there was a fire south of Ashcroft. This fire is still burning, and as of July 31 was estimated at approximately 78,540 hectares in size. The fire is still active and is 30 per cent contained.

BC Wildfire Services have identified the origin of the fire, and in conjuntion with the RCMP there is an ongoing investigation. The two agencies are working together in efforts to make a full determination on the cause of the fire. The RCMP is seeking the public’s assistance and is seeking any information regarding this fire.

Anyone with information about this fire is asked to contact the RCMP dedicated tip line at 1-855-685-8788.

A return to hot and dry conditions, as well as extremely low relative humidity, has resulted in increased fire behaviour in many parts of the Elephant Hill wildfire, forcing more evacuations in the area of Clinton and 70 Mile.

As of July 31, about 360 firefighting personnel were assigned to the fire, backed up by 69 pieces of heavy equipment, 108 structural protection specialists, 86 support staff, an incident management team, and air support (20 helicopters).

Crews and heavy equipment will continue to focus on building fuel breaks in an effort to protect property and values adjacent to the wildfire. The wildfire is constantly monitored by BC Wildfire Service operations staff, including helicopter coordinators, with aerial support assigned where necessary.

Through the Office of the Fire Commissioner, structure protection personnel, engines, and equipment have been assigned 24 hours a day. These structural protection crews are working across the fire to conduct property assessments, establish sprinkler systems on structures, and protect values where needed.

The Elephant Hill fire expanded on July 25 due to several days of warm conditions and gusty winds from the east. Crews worked to build handguards in the southeast corner where dozers cannot access, and prepared for controlled burns to anchor guard construction to further secure the protection of ranch lands and Cache Creek.

Specialists continue assessing danger trees, and ground crews continue with mop-up and equipment demobilization in the most southerly end and on the west flank. Ground crews continue to construct guards northwest of Hihium Lake to restrict fire spread towards structures.

On July 28, the Evacuation Order for the Boston Flats trailer park was rescinded. The park’s owner will continue to keep the site safe and secure, and have a checkpoint in place to control access.

The TNRD has also changed Evacuation Orders to Alerts in several local areas, including properties along Back Valley Road east of Cache Creek; Hihium Lake; some properties at Loon Lake; and properties north of Cache Creek in Electoral Areas “I” and “E”.

Areas under Evacuation Alert that have now gone to “All Clear” include west of Ashcroft and some areas in the Bonaparte Plateau, Blue Sky Country, and Copper Desert Country near Cache Creek.

The TNRD has sent a further Damage Assessment Team into the Loon Lake area to assess properties damaged by the fire. BC Wildfire crews continue to actively fight the fire in the area, which saw the loss of more than 60 structures (including the fire hall) when it first struck the area in early July.

The team has identified homes that can be immediately occupied (identified by a green placard) or properties that have been seriously damaged or destroyed and cannot be occupied (identified by a red placard).