Rain helping fight B.C. wildfires near Tumbler Ridge, but more work to be done

The community of Tumbler Ridge in northeastern B.C. remains under an evacuation order due to a big wildfire burning in the area, but crews say recent weather conditions have benefited the situation.

Forrest Tower, a fire information officer with the BC Wildfire Service, says there are still many questions about how this will go.

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He adds that given the size of the fire, it is expected to burn for a number of weeks or longer, but notes that the recent rain has been a welcome addition to getting the fire down.

“Rain has allowed us to work much closer to the fire. So, still working on that west flank south of Highway 52, east of Bearhole Lake Road in and around the wind farm is our area of work for heavy machinery and ground crews on that western flank and near Tumbler Ridge,” he said.

“We saw minimal fire activity and growth moving in that northeast direction, which is great. We did have air tankers work the area in the morning enforcing some previous retardant drops that had happened when this fire had started.”

Although the rain has aided crews in battling the blaze, he adds there’s still more to be done.

“Even though it is raining, and though conditions are much more favorable for firefighting, still a lot of other logistical things that need to happen. Our crews are still working and heavily engaged in the areas,” he said. 

He adds that the weather has also helped crews combat the Peavine Creek wildfire, which is burning east of the community.

“Even though it is great to have some rain, really does help us work much closer to the fire. It’s not a long-term impact just given how dry conditions are here. And expecting a return to seasonal or above seasonal norms for temperature will be helpful in the short term, but just signalling here that there will continue to be a large wildfire burning in this area for several weeks,” he said.

“Both of these fires have exhibited fairly extreme to extreme fire behaviour when influenced by wind, and so while we are in the conversations and stage with the various different local authorities about a lesser wildfire risk there still is two things here.”

Donnie Creek wildfire threatens to shut highway

Meanwhile, another highway may shut down due to the Donnie Creek wildfire, which continues to burn out-of-control between Fort St. John and Fort Nelson.

As this fire grows, there’s concern that it could lead to the closure of the Alaska Highway north of Trutch.

The wildfire is currently dubbed the second largest in the province’s recorded history.

Fire Information Officer Julia Caranci says that approximately 130 firefighters are working on the blaze that is more than 487,500 hectares in size.

“We had very similar burning conditions yesterday (Monday), very aggressive fire behaviour again, those northerly winds pushing the fire,” she said.

She adds that the fire is an estimated two kilometres away from a possible highway closure.

“We do want the public to be aware that that is a possibility. We are in regular contact with the highway authority. We’re assisting now in coordinating traffic control if that becomes necessary. We’re going to do everything we can to assist in keeping that highway open. That is a priority for us,” she said.

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