9 p.m. update: Things are status quo on the Elephant Hill fire, says Fire Information Officer Claire Allen.
With warmer temperatures today and expected to continue over the next little while, she says crews are expecting an increase in fire behaviour.
“Definitely something we will watch out for in terms of crews and their safety and what achievable objectives we have for direct attack,” she says.
“In talking to the crews it sounds like everything went really well today for getting the containment lines put in place,” she says.
The areas of the fire that look to be quickest to rebound after the rain storm are not on the northern part of the fire, she says.
Instead, she says the area in the south east, near Battle Creek and to the south east of Hihium Lake have seen the most active behaviour, now that it has warmed up.
“That’s the area that didn’t receive quite as much precipitation. In terms of looking at the whole fire today, that’s the area that you can see the most active fire behaviour.”
She says crews have responded to that activity, are working to get containment lines in place and are preparing for a planned ignition if safe conditions allow.
“In looking at that area, it’s in really tricky terrain if it gets any further, so what crews would like to do is do some controlled ignitions just to bring it down to the containment lines — just to do it in a controlled manner so that Mother Nature doesn’t do that with stronger winds forecast for later this week.”
Original story: Crews are anticipating more activity on the Elephant Hill fire as the weather heats up, says Fire Information Officer Claire Allen.
“Today is still looking like that last day of opportunity with lingering precipitation effects on the fire line there, so crews are still using that to their advantage and working on containment lines,” she says.
Containment lines and contingency guards are set to be completed on Monday, says Allen.
“We were hoping for Sunday but it seems Monday may be a bit more realistic,” she says, adding that they’ve already made progress on the lines.
“We are going to have to watch because we do expect for fire behaviour to perk back up accordingly with a return to warmer weather and it’s looking like Monday and Tuesday will be a bit breezier so definitely something we will be monitoring closely, especially in terms of any sort of fire behaviour and encroachment on the fire lines that we have been working hard to put in place.”
She says first responder safety will remain a priority and the direct attack objectives will be adjusted based on the safety of the firefighters should increased activity occur.
Today on the fire she says they are seeing some open flame, however a lot has been reduced to smoldering ground flame.
“With the return to warm weather we do expect those conditions to perk back up. We’ll see a bit more open flame, trees intermittently candling and hot spots that have been lingering in the subsurface level of the soil, those will likely produce more smoke.”
She reminds people in the area that there still is a lot fire behaviour out there, even if it hasn’t been seen with the wet conditions, but that smoke will appear on the horizon again as it becomes more active.
Allen says that herself and the other fire information officer, Rosalie MacAulay are available to answer individual questions about the wildfire. Their numbers and email can be found under the Elephant Hill fire’s Wildfire of Note page at www.bcfireinfo.for.gov.bc.ca.
She says the most frequent questions are how individual properties or towns is looking in relation to the fire. Others ask questions about weather conditions or about crews.
Since the rain, she says the number of calls to her have gone down, however when the fire is quite active or people are seeing a planned ignition, her calls increase.
“A lot of people have a lot of questions. There have been a significant number of communities affected and I am always happy to talk with residents,” she says.
Allen says she will do her best to provide details about the fire, however she is unable to speak about how properties have been impacted.
“I can explain what the fire is doing in the vicinity of where someone’s house is located, but in terms of actual impact on a specific address the regional district will have to speak to that.”
She says she also cannot speak about when alerts or orders may be lifted, as the BC Wildfire Service only provides recommendations to the regional districts. It is the regional districts that decide when and how to evacuate or lift those orders.
Otherwise, Allen says that fire crews are looking ahead in terms of what the fire will do over the next couple of days.
“We’re going to see what comes our way. [We’re] doing everything we can to put those containment lines in place and we’ve got three unit crews from New Zealand recently, which is pretty cool.”
She says quite a few tents in the camp are now decorated with the All Blacks flag.
“There is definitely some country pride going on along with the Mexican firefighters we have in here and Australians and our own B.C. crews and contract crews we have in here. So it’s quite an international community and it’s great to see some new faces coming to camp and some old faces returning after days of rest.”