Fighting Snowy Mountain wildfire becomes international effort

BC Wildfire Service is working alongside the U.S. to extinguish the wildfire

Update 11:40 a.m.

The Snowy Mountain wildfire remains at an estimated 13,359 hectares as crews continue to work towards controlling the blaze. Fire information officer Noelle Kekula said along with lightning and winds, the storms Saturday also brought some rain.

“I don’t know how much we got, but I do know we got a little bit, but not enough to give us what we were hoping for, that significant amount of rain we always pray for,” said Kekula. The winds were gusting high enough that the helicopter crew got grounded but the containment measures seemed to be working.

“It still stayed within our objective areas,” said Kekula, noting that because of the steep rocky terrain, crews are using a variety of methods, including handguards and wet lines.

“We definitely know it is still continuing to grow,” said Kekula, adding they are putting the priority on parts of the fire that might threaten life or property. “Resources are really stretched right now.”

Crews are being placed strategically due to steep terrain that has made some areas inoperable to safely work towards extinguishing the fire, but the steep terrain causes other problems for crews working the fire.

“Whatever timber is burning above, it will let loose, and then it will roll down the mountain,” said Kekula. “It’s a big safety issue. Not only are you looking down looking for hotspots, you also need to be aware, looking up, because of any debris that may be coming down.”

The BC Wildfire Service Incident Management Team is working alongside the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources due to the fire’s close proximity to the border.

Crews completed the demobilization of hoses along Chopaka Rd. and are continuing to mop up along the southeast corner of the fire

Related: Smoky skies for today in the Okanagan and Shuswap

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Original Saturday, Aug 11 10:41 a.m.

— By Tara Bowie

Despite a thunderstorm this morning that saw lightning strike in some places, everything is pretty quiet at the Snowy Mountain fire – for a raging wildfire, that is.

“It’s been quiet, the winds have been quiet, everything today in our Snowy fire has be quiet – so far today,” Noelle Kekula, fire information officer said, adding things can change quickly.

Kekula said overnight and into this morning the out-of-control blaze has stayed within the perimeter they set out for it.

“We don’t have containment lines, or guard lines built fully because of the rocky terrain and difficult slopes, but we have objectives of where we want the fire to grow and where we don’t want the fire to grow, and it’s staying within our objectives, so thats a good thing,” she said.

With new mapping, the fire is now estimated at 13,359 hectares in size.

“It is growth, but it is growth we are anticipating, so don’t panic,” she said.

Kekula said BC Wildfire knows the fire is burning larger than that, but with the smoky sky it’s hard to map.

A new map will be released soon on the BC Wildfire Fires of Note page.

BC Wildfire Service crews are continuing to focus their efforts on the north and south flanks of the Snowy Mountain wildfire

Crews conducted a small burn Friday in anticipation of the predicted thunderstorms

Check back for updates on this story.

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