7:45 p.m. update: “We didn’t receive as much rain as we thought the fire would have but nevertheless, we still are receiving precipitation which is great. Crews were able to really take advantage of that and, as crazy as this sounds… they were still able to do a bit of hand ignitions,” says Fire Information Officer for the Elephant Hill fire, Noelle Kekula.
That really helped increase the blackline around the fire despite the fire still being active today in some spots, she says.
“Where we don’t have any blackline, they were able to either direct attack it and extinguish all the hot spots in and around the areas or do some hand ignitions, so a really successful day.”
While it was windy at points today, crews were able to get out of the way of falling trees and went back to work, she says.
“It didn’t really hamper operations much at all.”
Tomorrow a little bit more rain is expected but after that, it’s going to get hot and dry again, she says. Some small runs that happened a few days ago are looking good, says Kekula.
“Controlled. They’ve got lines around them and crews are trying to mop them up as best as they can,” she says. “Where you see those runs, where they’re doing runs or breaching the control line and giving us a bit of trouble, of course those are areas where we really want to focus our energies.”
Kekula is asking people to respect area and other restrictions, including for the Elephant Hill fire, with opening day for a lot of hunting categories tomorrow.
“We’ve got crews in there and the last thing we want is stray bullets and things like that.”
Original story: Weather continues to help crews on the Elephant Hill fire, says Fire Information Officer Noelle Kekula.
“We’re really grateful we are finally getting some precipitation, some pieces of the fire have been receiving more than others … due to location and the size of the fire, but no matter what we get we will take and accept and work towards our advantage.”
Fire behaviour has been mostly rank 1 and rank 2, says Kekula, that’s ground fire or surface fire, however there have still been trees candling, she says.
“With storms and thunderstorms comes gusts of wind that still try to remind us,” she says, adding there are still many hot spots around the fire and that it continues to burn.
“With this downturn in the weather people are now thinking the fire is out — it’s a small reprieve. It’s not enough precipitation to put the fire out by any means. It’s wonderful and we’re going to use it but we’re still not confident that the line is secure.”
Crews are able to do more direct attacks on the fire now, she says.
“We’re getting there. The crews I think for the first time ever last night, when they came in from the field, they actually had some smiles on their faces. You could see their moral went up. You could see that they were finally not always fighting raging fire, that they finally were able to work on those control lines and not worry about where it may slough over the guard or where it might take a run. It’s a moral booster over all for everyone.”
There are currently 453 firefighters, 15 helicopters and 87 pieces of equipment working on the fire, with about 150 people working behind the scenes in camp, says Kekula.
She says the BC Wildfire Service is constantly in conversation with the regional districts about their recommendations on evacuation alerts and orders.
“It’s forefront in our minds, we are talking about it,” she says.
“We are talking to operations staff and crews on the ground and we are scouring on where we can make any more successes on making those recommendations.”
Additionally, a structural protection liaison has been assigned to the fire to answer questions property owners have about their properties. He is reachable through either the regional districts or Kekula.