Last night, aggressive fire behaviour occurred on the Snowy Mountain Fire with extreme winds out of the north. The fire remained to the west of Chopaka Road, but is burning in a southward direction. BC Wildfire Service night crews responded in conjunction with the Keremeos Fire Department to prioritize life and safety within the evacuation order area. Additional resources were deployed to assist, including initial attack crews and officers out of Penticton and BC Wildfire Service Incident Management Team staff. Details are forthcoming on any structural impacts.
In the early morning period, two new fires were reported within the Lower Similkameen Indian Band jurisdiction. These new fires are not spot fires resulting from the winds experienced on the Snowy Mountain Fire last night. As initial attack is the priority, BC Wildfire Service crews were reassigned to the Snowy Mountain Fire to respond to the two new fires. The new fires have led to a Highway 3 closure in both directions 10 km east of Keremeos as of 06:30 am – please check Drive BC for updates if you plan to travel in the area. For information on the two new fires, please reach out to the Kamloops Fire Centre at 250 554-5965.
The steep terrain is inoperable in some areas, and poses a safety risk to firefighting personnel. Crews are being strategically placed where it is safe and where suppression objectives can be met. Crews are positioned in rotations for 24 hour coverage, working on the south flank to protect communities around where evacuation orders have been implemented. Control lines are being constructed with heavy equipment.
Crews are supported by bucketing helicopters as they work south to conduct burn-offs as safe conditions allow to remove fuel from the slopes adjacent to properties in order to halt the forward progression of the fire. Structural protection specialists will continue to assess properties on the valley bottom, moving south along the Chopaka Road.
The spot fire that occurred due to very strong winds on the east side of the Similkameen River on the riverbank in the Beecroft Road area had 25 BCWS firefighters and the Keremeos Fire Department respond with heavy equipment. The spot fire does not pose a risk to structures or communities.
Smoke is drifting from the incident to adjacent areas, and the smoke column and open flame is visible from the surrounding communities. An Area Restriction Order was put in effect noon, July 28, 2018 and on August 03, 2018 for Crown land in the vicinity of Placer Lake to protect public safety and the safety of firefighting personnel.