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Aug. 1: Clinton, Chasm Mill remain secure

Guards put in on northern flank of Elephant Hill fire
Elephant Hill fire smoke column as seen on Saturday, July 29. Tom Turner photo.

8:30 p.m. update: Clinton and the area around the Chasm Sawmill remain secure, says Heather Rice, Fire Information Officer for the Elephant Hill.

“The area around Clinton is holding quite well,” she says. “There are lots of structural firefighters in the West Fraser Mill site helping to protect that site.”

Mound Road also remains secure and Rice says the fire hasn’t moved substantially from that area either.

While fire did jump Highway 97 today in a spill over from a controlled burn, Rice says they currently have crews actioning that. She says the fire has moved up the hill and away from Highway 97.

Otherwise, she says, controlled burns on the fire went well.

“They achieved the objective they were trying to there with removing a lot of the fuels in that area prior to the winds shifting on them and changing things up,” she says.

“The north flank held nicely today and didn’t have any real growth that I know of and it remains on the east part of the highway in that location,” says Rice.

In the north eastern part of the fire, she says heavy equipment has been preparing a guard a little ways north of the flank of the fire.

“The winds have been from the north the last day or two so that has allowed them to do some work on that north flank because the smoke is rolling in the other direction so that has been quite good.”

However, Rice does say that winds from the south and south west are forecast “which will start to move the fire a little bit more in that northeasterly direction over time.”

Overnight, cooler temperatures are forecast.

“We’re having cool temperatures so that recovery overnight is helpful. We are still running night crews every night so when the temperatures get cooler like this it lets them get a better handle on the hotspots and the hand guards in where we can get crews in,” she says.

“Crews are working really hard on this fire. We have over 500 personnel working on this to try and get it a little more manageable.”

4:30 p.m. update: A controlled burn near the intersection of the Loon Lake turnoff and Highway 97 has resulted in a spillover to the West side of Highway 97, according to Elephant Hill Fire Information Officer Heather Rice. She says the fire is moving up the hill away from Highway 97.

“They are actioning that spillover right now but it has happened and it has been moving up the hill fairly rapidly away from Highway 97.”

Highway 97 is closed down to Highway 99, according to Rice.

“It’s part of the risk of doing controlled burns, but in the meantime we’re doing a good job of protecting the Loon Lake area, doing some of these controlled burns. Unfortunately, the winds again got a little bit circlish, they started to circle on them a little bit so that’s how the spillover happened across 97.”

Original story: The Elephant Hill fire is now estimated at 84,442 hectares according to Fire Information Officer Heather Rice. She says the new size is the result of a combination of fire growth, controlled burns and better mapping.

“Things went quite well yesterday. They continue to really focus on that Mound Road area and they’ll be doing that again today as well as up towards Loon Lake where they’re seeing a little bit more new activity in that area. There will be structural firefighters in Loon Lake today as well as again through the Highway 97 corridor from 70 Mile House down to the Cache Creek junction.”

Related: Tip line set up to aid Elephant Hill wildfire investigation

The numbers of people working on the fire have stayed relatively the same with the exception of the structural protection personnel going up to 105, says Rice. She says some more northerly winds were expected today with significant controlled burns planned.

The fire crossing Highway 97 is not a concern with northerly winds, says Rice. She says that, while not forecasted, unexpected easterly winds would be a concern.