Smoke from the Canim Lake fire at 6:30 pm Sunday, July 4. (Martina Dopf photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Smoke from the Canim Lake fire at 6:30 pm Sunday, July 4. (Martina Dopf photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

UPDATE: Canim Lake fire grows to 700 hectares

BC Wildfire to continue working on blaze with heavy lift helicopter and air tankers

Update:

As of noon Monday, the Canim Lake fire has grown to 700 hectacres, according to the BC Wildfire Service, who noted the steep terrain and elevated winds late Sunday afternoon attributed to the increased fire activity.

“There was minimal growth downslope as winds pushed the fire over the ridge away from the community,” information officer Jessica Mack said in an email. “The BC Wildfire Service has completed an aerial assessment this morning and the heavy lift helicopter and air tankers will be responding to this wildfire today and will action the steep slope between the community and the wildfire.”

Update:

BC Wildfire Service is sending more resources to a wildfire south of Canim Lake to assess the situation determine the plan of attack.

BCWS information officer Jessica Mack said Monday, July 5, the fire is still moving upslope, in steep terrain but there has been “minimal growth.”

“It was still burning away from the community,” she said.

Helicopters put water around the ABC Communications wifi Sunday night after concerns from residents that it was getting close.

Update: Residents worry a wildfire at the south end of Canim Lake is close to wiping out the ABC Communications wifi tower.

Residents say flames can be seen on three sides of the tower. “It’s super close to it,” said Leanne Sallenback, owner of South Point Resort. “Once it reaches it we will all lose wifi.”

Sallenback said she’s concerned that if that happens, residents further down the lake won’t have any access to alerts in regards to the fire. A chopper was on scene at 6:41 p.m. dumping water.

Sallenback called on the BC Wildfire Service to provide an update on its plan to fight the fire overnight. “I’ve heard nothing from them,” she said.

ABC Communications is aware of the fire and monitoring the situation closely, a representative said.

“By the very nature of our service area we are faced with the risk of wildfire each season,” manager of operations Falko Kadenbach said. “This year we are facing historical conditions. We are so lucky to have such a talented and organized fire protection organization within BC and Canada that work tirelessly to protect us.”

Jessica Mack, information officer with the Cariboo Fire Centre, said Sunday evening that BCWS will be going to do another assessment of the fire. The fire is listed at one hectare but Mack said she did not have an update on the size.

“We are aware that the fire is producing a lot of smoke,” she said in an email. “Aerial support in the form of air tankers and helicopters are responding to this wildfire.”

Previous update: Just before noon Sunday morning, residents reported seeing helicopters dumping water on the hillside fire at the south end of Canim Lake. Water is being scooped from the nearby lake and doused on the fire, much to the relief of nearby property owners.

Original story:

Frustration is growing in Canim Lake where a wildfire at the south end of the lake has inched down the hillside overnight.

Leanne Sallenback, owner of South Point Resort said the fire crested the hillside directly behind her property Saturday night. She and others in the area had been told that morning that water bombers would be working on the fire that day, but no action was taken.

“They said three days ago it wouldn’t crest the hill and that they’d get the bombers on it yesterday, and nobody came,” Sallenback said. “Last night we stayed up all night watching it, we didn’t know what to do.”

The fire, which is classified as a “wildfire of note,” was listed at one hectare in size as of Saturday night. An evacuation alert has been in place for properties at the south end of the lake, including the Canim Lake Band, since Friday night.

Jessica Mack, information officer with the Cariboo Fire Centre said Sunday morning that BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) staff observed “minimal fire activity” at the Canim Lake blaze Saturday, but that another assessment would take place today.

“Certainly if it is moving towards the community and there is a concern, that may change the approach,” Mack said, noting the fire movement observed yesterday was upslope.

Margo Wagner, chair of the Cariboo Regional District and area director for Forest Grove-Canim Lake, said the hillside is a concern because of the weather inversion that occurs at night, when cold air often blows down the mountainside towards the lake, redirecting the flames.

Wagner said several calls had been made to BCWS yesterday evening and that officials are “very much aware” of the issue.

“It will be discussed at the morning debrief with the BC Wildfire Service this morning,” Wagner said. “I’m cautiously optimistic that they’ll see some major action up there today.”

While she understands the frustration of Canim residents – Wagner lives just a few kilometres from the fire – she said the CRD has no authority when it comes to directing the firefighting efforts.

For Sallenback, the uncertainty surrounding a fire so close to her resort has only added to the stress of the past year impacted by COVID-19 travel restrictions.

“I’m no longer accepting guests right now,” she said. “We went from a sold-out summer to nothing.”



melissa.smalley@100milefreepress.net

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A helicopter scoops water off of Canim Lake to douse a nearby wildfire. (Kolton Smith - submitted photo)

A wildfire burns Sunday morning on the hillside at the south end of Canim Lake. (Martina Dopf photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

A helicopter flies over Canim Lake Sunday afternoon. (Kolton Smith - submitted photo)

A helicopter scoops water off of Canim Lake Sunday afternoon. (Kolton Smith - submitted photo)