Increased fire activity on the west flank of the McKay Creek fire prompted an evacuation order Thursday, Aug. 12 for properties immediately east of IR Bridge River 1 on West Pavilion Road.
The Squamish-Lillooet Regional District said police were expected to be “expediting” the order, which was made due to danger to life safety caused by the wildfire, which is estimated at 32,610 hectares.
A strong smoke column was highly visible from nearby communities and travel corridors such as Highway 99 and Highway 40 (Lillooet Pioneer Road).
“We’ve got our eyes on it and we’re looking at options to protect those communities along Highway 40,” BC Wildfire information officer John Stoesser said.
BC Wildfire said in its latest update that “extremely vigorous surface fire and active crown was present on the west flank of the fire. Two medium helicopters suppressed fire activity on the McKay Creek Wildfire in the Applesprings Creek area, while Structure Protection Personnel have deployed sprinklers, pumps, and water supply systems in the Xwisten (Bridge River Indian Band) and Applesprings Creek communities. A fireguard is in place around these communities.
Fire managers are coordinating closely with the community council, emergency operations centres and Emergency Management BC.
BCWS added it is prepared to conduct planned ignitions on the McKay Creek wildfire in the Applesprings Creek area as soon as Aug.13, if conditions permit. “The decision to use planned ignitions is taken with the utmost care,” the update stated.
“During these hot, dry drought conditions that result in extreme fire behaviour, fighting fire with fire is one of the most effective and safest tools at BCWS’ disposal,” according to BC Wildfire. “This planned ignition operation will slowly and methodically remove vegetation through burning it and reduce fuel for the fire. This brings the fire’s edge from the top of steep mountainous slopes downward towards the valley bottom and a strong fireguard that is safer and easier to access by ground crews.
“This proactive approach results in the fire moving downslope with more moderated fire behaviour. Once complete, this operation area will act as a strong fuel break that will protect communities in the valley bottom, and those farther south and north.”
BCWS said residents of nearby communities are advised that smoke will be visible from Lillooet, Moha, Fountain, Highway 99, Highway 40 (Lillooet Pioneer Road), and surrounding areas. Operational closures along the Highway 40 (Lillooet Pioneer Road) may take place during the burning operations to ensure the safety of crews on the ground and the public.
On Aug. 4, the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District issued an Evacuation alert for the selected areas of Electoral area A and Electoral Area B. The following day, the regional district and Xwisten (Bridge River Indian Band) issued an Evacuation Order for the area of 28101 Lillooet-Pioneer Rd.