The McDougall Creek wildfire continues to be most active at the south and southwest flanks, on the ridgeline east of the Powers Creek drainage.
It has been the most active there for the last week but cooler weather conditions at night have slowed down the blaze.
Because of favourable conditions and low fire activity on Monday, Sept. 4, BC Wildfire Service crews were able to directly attack the blaze along the ridgeline, adjacent to the completed fuel-free buffer zone. Small-scale hand ignitions will be completed by crews in the area to burn small pockets of unburnt fuel and clean up the guard.
Crews are continuing to receive aerial support, applying fire retardant to slow down the spread of the blaze.
A planned ignition was scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 5, in the Hidden Creek area if conditions remained favourable.
The ignition is 25-30 hectares in size and will be the first phase of a larger planned ignition, according to wildfire services. It will also provide a safer anchor for crews to work from.
Crews will also continue with another planned ignition, north of the Carrot Mountain area. This ignition was supposed to start on Sunday, Sept. 3 but was postponed because of unfavourable weather conditions in the area.
It will start with a 150-hectare ignition on the north side of Carrot Mountain, followed by a 250-hectare ignition on the northwest side. When the planned ignitions take place, smoke will be visible to local communities.
“Planned ignitions are a very useful tactic in fire suppression and fire management and are often the safer and more efficient operational tactic,” said BC Wildfire Service. “It is easier for crews to use direct attack methods on and extinguish hot spots to strengthen control lines and achieve containment.
“This is also more time-efficient and safer for the crews as they have to spend less time chasing hot spots and patches of free-burning fire in rough terrain.”
Because there is no rain in the forecast, fuels are starting to dry and increased fire activity is expected within the control lines over the coming days.
Because of this, there will also expected to be increased air traffic battling the blaze.
Over the last week, a structural defence plan has been completed for the Glenrosa community. More than 250 personnel are ready in the area if the wildfire were to spread to the neighbourhood and structure protection trailers and a mass water delivery system have been staged in the area as a precaution.
A machine guard is continuing to be built in the Glenrosa/Powers Creek area, connecting Bear Main Forest Service Road around the west side of Crystal Mountain and back around onto Glenrosa Road and continuing east above Glenrosa.
All evacuation alerts and orders remain the same. All evacuation information can be found on the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations website. An estimated 405 properties remain under evacuation order, with 283 of them within RDCO Electoral Area West and 122 within the City of West Kelowna. An additional 20,111 remain on evacuation alert.
The updated number of properties damaged in the Grouse Complex wildfires in the Central Okanagan has increased from 181 to 189.
•Westbank First Nation 19;
•West Kelowna 69;
•Regional District of Central Okanagan West Electoral Area 94.
This number includes Lake Okanagan Resort as a single property. On this property, approximately 150 units have been impacted.
A bus service that was announced on Wednesday, Aug. 30, will continue for residents who lost their structures, to see their property. Those who fit this criteria will receive a call from Central Okanagan Emergency Operations. Residents can go see their property but aren’t allowed to get off the bus for safety reasons. This process is expected to be completed by Thursday, Sept. 7.
“Not knowing the status of their home is very stressful for evacuees,” said Corie Griffiths, Emergency Operations Centre director. “We hope getting this information will make things just a little bit easier, even though they can’t return home yet.”
BC Wildfire Service is reminding the public that nobody is allowed in the area restriction/evacuation order zone. Members of the public continue to be found along Jack Pine Forest Service Road as they attempt to access properties by boat along Okanagan Lake. For the foreseeable future, Kelowna RCMP and conservation officers will remain on scene to continue to enforce the area restriction order. Anyone found in the area is subject to a $1,150 fine. The order is in place for many reasons including:
•Heavy equipment and chainsaw operators: Heavy equipment and chainsaw operators can’t hear or see you when operating equipment;
•Ash pits: Deep, intensely burning stumps and tree roots may result in hot ashpits underground that can lead to severe burns if you step or fall into one;
•Falling trees: Drought and burnt-out tree roots cause unstable trees that may fall at any time, especially if it’s windy.
The McDougall Creek wildfire remains out of control and a wildfire of note. It is 13,712 hectares in size. Because of planned ignitions, the size of the fire hasn’t been updated since Tuesday, Aug. 29.
Transport Canada and the BC Wildfire Service prohibit the use of drones of any size near a wildfire. The operation of any aircraft not associated with fire suppression activities within a radius of five nautical miles around a fire, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones), is illegal. Anyone found interfering with wildfire control efforts may face penalties of up to $100,000 and or up to one year in jail.