While a wildfire near Clinton continues to rage out of control, the fire near Monte Lake west of Vernon, is getting closer to being fully contained.
During the Sunday fire update with BC media, Kevin Skrepnek, chief information officer with the BC Wildfire Service, says good progress is being made on the Martin Mountain blaze.
“The fire is still holding at around 150 hectares and we’re now calling it 90% contained. This is definitely a good story. This fire had the potential to take off given the terrain it was burning in and the conditions that day. It had a lot of fuel, almost an uninterrupted sea of timber ahead of it, so with a really aggressive response, we were able to keep it to a relatively small size,” says Skrepnek.
Skrepnek says the fire, which started last Wednesday at the side of Highway 97, is still actively burning with evacuation alerts and orders in place, but crews are making headway.
He didn’t have an update on the cause, but says they are operating under the assumption it was human caused as there was no lightning in that area.
“The exact nature of what caused it, we are still working on that.”
As of Sunday afternoon, there are 150 fires burning in BC, with 13 new starts on Saturday.
The most problematic blaze is the Elephant Hill fire north of Cache Creek which forced the evacuation of all 650 residents in Clinton Saturday afternoon.
Skrepnek says gusty winds in that area led to fire embers escaping the fire guards, which created the need for the further evacuations.
Skrepnek called it “a beast of a fire,” and noted Highway 97 has been closed until further notice from the junction of Highway 99 north of Cache Creek, to the junction of Highway 24.
The weather continues to be a concern for fire officials, with no rain and increasing hot temperatures this coming week, possibly up to 40 degrees Celsius in some areas.
There have been 820 fires this season, burning 426,000 hectares, the third most in BC’s history, trailing the 483,000 hectares burned in 1961 (entire season) and the 855,000 hectares in 1958.
There is also a 1,100 hectare fire in Washington state which is pushing smoke up to the Okanagan and other parts of BC.
Skrepnek says it’s burning south of Princeton, about 10 to 15 km south of the Canada US border.
Robert Turner from Emergency Management BC says there are about 6,000 evacuees in BC.
Photo: Wentworth Creek fire, 80 km’s NW of Williams Lake (BC Wildfire Service)