B.C. wildfires: warm weather and wind concerning for southern Interior

As B.C.’s worst recorded wildfire season rages on, there are new concerns that warm weather and wind could have a negative effect on the southern Interior.

Parts of the Interior and Central Okanagan saw rain and cooler temperatures earlier in the week, but the forecast moving into the weekend shows temperatures rising up to 30 degrees by Sunday.

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BC Wildfire Service Fire Information Officer Forrest Tower says the cooler shift did little to help, as recently scorched ground in the area wasn’t able to retain much moisture from the rainfall. He tells CityNews that some of the fires burned deep into the ground, so increased wind could fan those flames into bigger blazes.

“Water doesn’t necessarily penetrate deep enough into the ground where it will extinguish that fire … most of it hits the ground, but it just hits the surface of the ground,” he said.

Firefighters still have to follow-up and work with ground tools or high pressure hoses in order to penetrate beyond the first layer of soil, Tower said.

“If we don’t do that, there’s a really high chance that when we get higher winds … if there’s any fuel around, that is going to reignite.”

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Tower explains that the removal of fuels can help give wildfire crews an advantage when they’re trying to contain it to an area. Outside of controlled burns, he says they have a few options when taking that route.

“We’re removing those fuels so — when we do get wind, when we do get warmer temperatures — that fire can’t get past the guard that we built by hand, by machine, or roadway and it really reduces the chance of that fire creeping along the ground and igniting trees.”

Adams Lake fires not letting up

Tower says these weather conditions aren’t providing much support for crews working to combat wildfires within the Adams Complex that has been ravaging an area northeast of Kamloops. The Bush Creek East Fire burned with such a high intensity that it made its way deep into the ground, he said.

“That means that our wildland firefighters have a lot ahead of them in terms of ensuring that the further spread of this fire is really limited, and it requires a lot of groundwork.”

Boats are seen on Little Shuswap Lake in Chase, B.C. as the air is filled with smoke.

Boats are seen on Little Shuswap Lake in Chase, B.C. on Monday August 21, 2023 as wildfire smoke fills the air. (CityNews Image)

The Bush Creek East wildfire is currently burning at approximately 41,041 hectares in size according to data from the BC Wildfire Service. The blaze, burning on either side of Adams Lake and south across Highway 1 between Chase and Sorrento, was initially discovered on July 12, and is believed to have been caused by lightning or other natural causes.

“Everyone is trying their best and I am going to extend that to the community in North Shuswap,” Tower added.

“I know that everyone there is trying their best to work towards the same goal as us … we are all trying to get containment of this wildfire. There’s a lot of other stuff going on, but we need to focus on the wildfire. That is the threat that is present to all of us.”

With files from Martin MacMahon and Robyn Crawford

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