Smoke from the Elephant Hill fire seen from Horse Lake early last week. Tara Sprickerhoff photo.

Sept. 8: “Good day today” on Elephant Hill fire

Rain on Elephant Hill fire helps firefighters

8:45 update: “It was a good day today,” says Fire Information Officer for the Elephant Hill fire Noelle Kekula.

“There was various amount of rain throughout the fire, different amounts received,” she says.

The higher relative humidities helped crews make some gains and secure more of the control lines, she says.

“It was a good firefighting day,” she says. “We weren’t seeing a lot of active fire.”

There has been very little new growth on the fire in the past couple days, she says.

“It definitely isn’t a reprieve but it feels like it a little bit. We definitely are not letting our backs down, our guards down, because we know it can bounce back pretty quick because this is a small amount of rain after months of no precipitation. It’s really nice to receive but we’re definitely not out of the woods.”

Still, she says crews came back into the fire camp looking a bit more positive today.

In the coming days, she says crews will be continuing to work on strengthening control lines and continue to work on area that could threaten homes or communities.

On the northeast front of the fire, south of Sheridan Lake, Kekula says the BC Wildfire Service is looking at conducting some planned ignitions to get rid of unburned material.

“There are pockets of material that could potentially cause us a bit of angst, but if the weather and if conditions are a go then they will go forward with those planned ignitions to remove those pockets of troublesome timber types.”

She says the fire remains further to the west of the Rayfield and Crystal Lake area, however they are working on guard in that area.

“The rain was much welcome for all of us and you know what, it even cleared out a bit of the smoke in the community, in the valley, so that is nice to have and it’s just starting to feel a little bit more like fall out there.”

New Zealand firefighting crews salute international wildfire fighting crews with a Maori thank you song (BC Wildfire Service):

Original story: “The fire did receive some amounts of precipitation overnight. In the Green Lake area there were 2 mm of rain received,” says Noelle Kekula, Fire Information Officer for the Elephant Hill fire.

“So it’s cautiously optimistic [but] it’s still incredibly dry and we still would need significant more rainfall over the entire fire to feel some great confidence, but we will take what we can get.”

The cooler weather and higher relative humidities are good for firefighting activities, she says.

“It means we can get more water on the edges, we can do the burning, we can get rid of more of the fuels with equipment and crews so it’s nice to have a bit of a weather break as opposed to those winds that continue to challenge us.”

Still, she says, the rest of the fire received very little rain.

“With the fire this large and the different ecosystems, we were expecting in the wetter climates, the wetter belts, you would see more precipitation and the drier areas, we would see less precipitation.”

A new map released yesterday shows few changes on the fire, but is due to better mapping via air and ground, says Kekula. The new map has a new size, updating the perimeter from 192,725 to 192,284 hectares.

“That only is because of more accurate mapping. That’s why we always say estimated size because once we start getting better data then we have more confidence of the perimeter of the fire.”

She says when helicopters are flying through smoke it’s harder to tell where on the ground the fire is.

Today crews are working in the Tin Cup area: “We are almost on our final push in getting a good black line on that north west flank. Crews are working really hard on that peice.”

They’re also focusing their efforts up towards Watch Lake and Jack Frost Lake: “We’ve got crews and equipment in there and then we are over to Sheridan and Sheridan down to the Rayfield Valley.”

On the east flank of the fires crews are working in Brigade Creek and Tobacco Creek country and to the north and east of Hihium Lake.

Yesterday crews were unable to take to the air due to smoke.

There is a severe thunderstorm watch in the area for both 100 Mile House and Williams Lake.

Related: Severe thunderstorm watch issued for Williams Lake and 100 Mile House.

“We just are hoping that there is no lighting with that, but with thundershowers there is always wind. We are expecting it to be isolated.” says Kekula.

“We were prepping for it, we’ve got the high relative humidities and cooler temperatures so lets see what it brings us.”

Still she says, the weather changes have so far been a welcome relief.

“It’s a bit of a nice break to have cooler temperatures and the smell of fall in the air.”

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