The Elephant Hill fire has seen some activity recently but nothing overly aggressive yet, says Fire Information Officer Claire Allen.
“Things are pretty status quo for right now, still no growth to the fire perimeter and nothing right now that suggests our fire guards are being challenged,” she says.
“In terms of the fire behaviour that we are seeing, … still rank one, rank two fire behaviour so that’s the smouldering ground fire to some open surface flames. In the middle section of the fire and down in the south east area, still within the perimeter, we are seeing a bit of activity. Some easterly winds yesterday pushed the fire that was more of an open surface flame south east of Hihium into a green pocket of unburned fuel, so that’s where that column of smoke came up. That was quite visible to the community, to the south and west of the fire and that’s where that originated from.
“We do have crews and helicopter resources addressing that today and working to ensure that that is not growing in a direction that would challenge containment lines, but for now it’s well within the fire perimeter and is not threatening any values or structures in that area.”
Yesterday, containment on the fire was upped to 50 per cent.
Today, Allen says that contingency guards on the north west and north east flanks have been completed.
On the north west flank of the fire, those lines go up above Hutchinson Lake and work up to the North Bonaparte Road towards Tin Cup Creek, adjacent to McMahon Lake. Tin Cup Lake, with North Bonaparte Road to the north form a natural barrier, so no guardlines were put in that area, she says.
From there, Allen says there are crews working in the Mount Jim area to complete a tightline on that portion of the fire, due to a number of ranches in the area, which connects north underneath Jim Lake. From there, the line goes in a north easterly fashion just towards the south of Lake of the Woods, south of Little Green Lake.
On the west side of the fire, the lines use Young Lake as an anchor point, move to the west of Spectacle Lake and then up the 3700 Road. From there, they move along existing forest service roads and connect to the other side of North Bonaparte Road where crews are then working to tightline along the fire to the northern tip and meet with the guards on the north west flank of the fire.
Overnight, Allen says scans were done to the south of the Bonaparte River, and from Chasm through to the west side of the fire to north of Loon Lake looking for any remaining hot spots.
“Especially ones that might be close to any infrastructure, properties or our own guard line. So really just making sure that given how deep the fire is burning into the subsurface layers, making sure that with the hot weather, we know where there are lingering hot spots and where lingering heat exists. Then giving that info to our crews and crew supervisors to go tackle as [they are] able because those are the ones that once it gets hot they pop up and start smoking again. Without any suppression, those can re-emerge into open surface flame and do some fuel finding and find some unburned fuels and that’s what we’re trying to keep from happening.”
She says crews are working on mop up and patrol in the Battle Creek area, which is “indicative of it moving out of that active wildfire phase.”
Looking ahead, Allen says that crews will be monitoring the weather.
“It looks like more days of this pretty intense heat we are having for late August,” she says. “It’s looking like things could get a little more challenging in terms of weather but given the really great progress we have been able to make so far, definitely feeling confident about our containment lines at this time.”
Yesterday, the fire received 100 Australians to help with suppression efforts. These international firefighters are in addition to several New Zealand crews working on the fire. Of the Australians, 60 are based at the Clinton camp and 40 are at the Big Sky camp.
Allen says the new crews have created a “joke rivalry” around the camp.
“There is a small New Zealand flag that’s about my height, it’s about five feet off the ground. The Australians brought in a massive flag pole and it dwarfs the Kiwi flag and they’ve put it right next to it.”
Allen says there should also be an influx of B.C. crews returning to the fire within the next couple of days as well.