Skies near 100 Mile House are smokey again today (Aug. 10). Max Winkelman photo.

Aug. 10: Elephant Hill fire remains largely within perimeter

“We’re trying our best. This is a huge fire.”

8:30 p.m.: While the Elephant Hill fire remains out of control says Fire Information Officer Noelle Kekula, so far it is staying within the control lines.

“We have seen a lot of activity within the fire,” she says. “So you people are still seeing flames from numerous locations but so far it is still staying within the control lines and we are continuing to build the guards.”

The north flank of the fire is holding approximately 12 km from Green Lake and is approximately 5 km from Young Lake.

“The guards are in and around and up to Young Lake,” says Kekula.”The crews are working around the clock on the east flank so guards and control lines are still being built on that from machines. They are looking at some burn out operations and where we can do some of that to tighten up those lines.”

On the north flank of the fire, Kekula says that there is a guard built and burn out operations have been conducted.

“It is holding within that perimeter but we will wait and see what happens over the weekend with that when the weather changes and the winds come from the south and start trying to push that fire further north, so I guess we will wait and see how successful those burns are,” she says.

The ultimate goal, she says, is to keep the fire within the perimeter using those burns, so the fire has nothing to burn if the winds change.

“We will continue to strive to meet that objective,” she says.

Tomorrow, winds are expected to change. What have been light winds pushing from the north are expected to reverse and come from the south.

“North, north east, north west, we’re not really sure which way it’s going to push put we are expecting it to push to the north,” says Kekula.

“Because this is such a large fire, that in some areas it pushes one way and in other area as it pushes the other way because of the valleys and the mountains,” she says.

She says the fire service has people out studying the area and models right now to make predictions.

“Gusts is what we are expecting, how strong of gusts I don’t know.”

Like the north, elsewhere in the fire hasn’t seen much change in the perimeter, says Kekula.

When the Free Press spoke with Kekula, as of that moment she said it had not crossed Highway 99, Highway 1 and was not in the Deadman Valley.

Overnight, crews will be concentrating on the south and south west flanks of the fire.

“We’re trying our best,” she says. “This is a huge fire.”

With the number of fires happening throughout the province, she says resources are stretched.

“Evacuation alerts and orders are there for people’s safety and I know people are getting frustrated with the size of the fire and how long it is taking us to put the fires out, but these fires are going to be around for a long time.

Original story: “The previous team, they’ve had some really successful burning operations on that north flank but the weather forecast… for the weekend is for a shift in the wind, for the winds to be getting pushed to the north,” says Fire Information Officer Noelle Kekula.

“Right now, the fire is holding nice on that north flank but we will see what happens over the weekend.”

They haven’t had the right weather to conduct planned burns in the Young Lake area, says Kekula. 

“They’re still in the cue, in the plan. We are continuing to build more control lines, essentially from Young Lake to [Skeetchestn]. That whole east flank control lines are being built and planned ignitions are being proposed but we’re just waiting for the right weather conditions to do those ignitions.”

When they make the recommendation to let people back in, such as in the Chasm to 70 Mile Highway 97 corridor, it means there is a bit of confidence the control line will hold, says Kekula

“We’ve assessed it. We’ve scanned it. We’ve mopped it up. We’ve extinguished the hot spots but get a big wind in there and anything can happen. We’ve seen what’s happened all summer long.”

Related: Evacuation order rescinded along Highway 97 between Chasm and 70 Mile

The fire has not crossed Highway 1 or Highway 99 in the last few days, says Kekula.

“We’re working our best. We’ve got special protection units out there. They’re assessing properties. They’re out there.We’ve got crews out there. We’re working our best on trying to get some increased containment on this fire.”