A member of the WeHaulH20 team refilling Nessie during the fight against the Cold Spring’s Wildfire in Washington. (Contributed Image)

Penticton wildfire crew goes from Christie Mountain to Cold Springs

The team at Eagle Ridge Consulting is helping fight fires across the border

Straight from the Christie Mountain Fire, Warren Kipp and his team at Eagle Ridge Consulting headed south of the border with their specially built tactical water tender Nessie.

The team also goes by the tagline, WeHaulH20. The Western spoke with Kipp on Sept. 17, in his first break since crossing into the United States last week.

“We just rolled off the Cold Springs fire yesterday,” said Kipp. “Our equipment is down there, and we’re just waiting for reassignment. There’s still plenty of fires down here.”

The Cold Springs Fire that WeHaulH20 fought near Omak burned over 90,000 hectares from when it was first reported on Sept. 7. They also helped on the Customs Road wildfire, which burned 890 hectares near Curlew, Washington.

READ MORE: Washington State fires south of Osoyoos border still uncontrolled

During the Christie Mountain Fire, the team was in the thick of it to help fight the fire in their back yard.

“In Penticton, we had active fire duty where we were out in the black, so to speak,” said Kipp. “Putting out hotspots with our overhead monitor, or our lines directly off the truck.

Having finished with the Cold Springs fire, some of the team have already received their next assignment and are being deployed to the Inchelium Complex Fire south of Grand Forks.

On the Cold Springs Fire, the tactical tender was assigned to the fire line, where they were on-call for hot spots and aiding smaller engine crews by keeping them supplied with water. The team and tender haven’t spent all their time on the fires directly putting water on the flames.

We’ve been doing everything from water handling to dust suppression. That’s a critical part,” said Kipp. “You’re maintaining the roads in, you’re introducing humidity, and it might supply roads or egress routes where the last thing you want is heavy equipment tearing up or breaking down. “

READ MORE: Area restriction around Christie Mountain wildfire lifted

Fighting wildfires is similar on either side of the border, and sliding into the command structure hasn’t been a problem. Nessie is actually based on models used in California for fighting their aggressive wildfires, built in B.C. and capable of handling rough terrain in areas that a regular engine can’t.

The main issue they’ve encountered so far is letting the fire commanders in Washington know what resource they have at their hands.

“At Cold Springs, they basically told us they wished they had us the week before,” said Kipp. “It’s just going to take a little bit of time for them to realize what we have, and activate us to a fire where they can use all the features we have.”

Kipp and his team is staying down in the United States for a while, and with the many ongoing fires, there isn’t a shortage of things to do.

“We’re hoping for a month of work,” said Kipp. “That might just involve moving around the state and into Oregon. There’s a lot going on right now.”

This is the first year that the team has deployed to the States. It’s the culmination of a process that started over a year ago, and a process that Kipp encourages other teams and companies interested in fighting fires across the border begin as soon as possible.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Wildfire season

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Up to 15 centimetres of snow is forecasted in the Okanagan Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. (File photo)
With snow expected, Penticton reminds locals of road clearing procedures

It can take the city up to 48 hours to clear some locations

Neil Fassina will become the new president of Okanagan College on April 1, 2021. (Contributed)
Okanagan College recruits new president

Current Athabasca University president Neil Fassina to replace Jim Hamilton on April 1, 2021

COVID-19. (Courtesy of CDC).
Interior Health reports 12 additional COVID-19 cases

The total number of cases in the region is now at 644

Cheryl McCafferty hands a driver their breakfast during the United Way’s 2020 Drive Thru Breakfast. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
United Way Drive Thru raises $20K so far

Donations still coming in for the local charity

Brian Shiosaki helps his neighbours by shoveling the sidewalk near his home in Rutland during a large snowfall in Kelowna Tuesday. (Carli Berry/Capital News)
Special weather statement in effect for Okanagan Valley

The Okanagan could see up to 15 centimeters of snow on Friday

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. (B.C. Government photo)
Kelowna Francophone school COVID-19 outbreak climbs to 5, mixture of students and staff

Health officer says situation evolving, spoke to possible closure, changes to provincial guidelines

Actor Ryan Reynolds surprised a Shuswap family with a special birthday message to their son who was worried he’d be alone on his 9th birthday on Nov. 24. (Tiffanie Trudell/Facebook)
Ryan Reynolds text almost gives away Shuswap boy’s birthday surprise

Deadpool actor helps remind eight-year-old Canoe resident he’s not alone

Colin James put on a great show at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds as part of the 2019 Vancouver Island MusicFest. But his Okanagan tour for 2020 has been postponed until 2021. (Photo by Terry Farrell)
COVID-19 cancels Corb Lund’s Vernon, Penticton, Trail, Cranbrook concerts

The Contenders, Colin James and Lund postponed until 2021

RCMP detachments across B.C. are now flying Pride flags. (Submitted photo)
Man who spent 4 days injured on floor rescued by Kamloops Mountie

The man is recovering in hospital after being rescued by a police officer conducting a well-being check

Vancouver police reactivated the search for Jordan Naterer Thursday Oct. 22. Photo courtesy of VPD.
Mom of missing Manning Park hiker believes her son is waiting to come home

‘He’s going to come out of a helicopter and say ‘what took you so long?”

A fundraiser for the Falkland Community Church is underway. (Photo submitted)
COVID-19 leaves Falkland Church in a lurch

Annual event/major fundraiser cancelled for first time in 34 years

Environment Minister George Heyman, Premier John Horgan and Energy Minister Michelle Mungall announce that B.C. Hydro is proceeding with construction of the Site C dam, Dec. 11, 2017. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
Site C actions, costs won’t be known until after B.C. election, Horgan says

Peace River diverted for construction of reinforced dam base

Five people with alleged ties to the Red Scorpion Gang are facing numerous charges. (Kelowna RCMP)
5 men linked to Red Scorpion gang charged with gun, drug offences in Kelowna

Police seized a machine gun as well as 5.5 kilograms of fentanyl and carfentanil

Most Read