** Provided courtesy of the RDEK & BC Wildfire Service (September 6, 2017 @ 10pm)
Today we started what will become a regular routine: video updates with BCWS Info Officer Mike McCulley. Each day will feature a different topic and he will focus on a different fire. Today, we started with the Lamb Creek fire and we walk through the map, what crews are doing, recommending evacuation alerts/orders and some of their firefighting tactics. It’s good information for all of us. Even though he’s talking about the Lamb Creek fire, the practices are the same – AND he is also giving some general information about the current state of things in the Fire Centre along with a weather forecast heading into this weekend that is calling for unsettled conditions (darn you Mother Nature). This video is a little longer than the average as it is our first one, but I hope you will enjoy it and find it a useful/informative tool. Here is the link: https://youtu.be/Zwu5ZfuIy4U
Moving now to the fire round up. Here is the latest from the BC Wildfire Service on the fire front:
• St Mary River Fire: The St. Mary River Fire is still being held and is now classified as 76% contained. They continue to work on it and have been making good progress. The fire has not grown in size and is still 398 hectares in size. They have been making progress and the fire has not grown in size. The evacuation ALERT remains in place.
• Lamb Creek Fire (Moyie Area): The fire is estimated at 1605 hectares in size. They had 52 personnel, 14 pieces of heavy equipment and helicopters (when visibility permitted) working the fire today. Crews continue to build control lines with the aid of heavy equipment and air support. In yesterday’s update, we mentioned that an Incident Management Team has arrived on site to take over operation of the fire. We thought it might be helpful to explain their role. An Incident Management Team (IMT) is a specialized group of personnel that take over the coordination and response to significant wildfire (or, sometimes, a group of fires). This takes pressure off of local fire management staff so that they can focus on other fires in the region. The evacuation orders remain in effect.
• Linklater Fire (Koocanusa / Newgate Area): The fire on the Canadian side of the border is estimated at 833 hectares in size and they had 19 personnel, 9 pieces of heavy equipment, and 1 helicopter. Crews continue to build guard with the aid of heavy equipment and air support. The visibility was very poor in the South Country today due to the smoke. The evacuation order for Newgate / West Koocanusa from Gold Bay south to the border remains in effect. The evacuation alert on the east side of Lake Koocanusa in the Grasmere area remains in effect.
• White River Complex: The fire is still estimated at 12,000 hectares. Increased fire behaviour yesterday resulted in removing crews and equipment, to ensure the safety of personnel. Today, personnel are working in priority areas where it is safe to do so. The three fires have merged into one fire and the fire is now called the White River Fire. Currently BC Wildfire Service personnel are closely monitoring this fire and creating contingency plans. It is producing a lot of smoke. The evacuation ORDER for Whiteswan Lake area remains in place.
• White Creek Fire: this fire is burning northwest of Kimberley. It is burning in a very remote area at high elevation. The size is estimated at 322 hectares and is not threatening any communities at this time.
• Quinn Creek Fire: the fire remains active. It is estimated at 2700 hectares. It is not threatening communities at this time.
• Verdant Creek Fire: Parks Canada continues to actively manage the Verdant Creek wildfire that is burning in Kootenay National Park and Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park using ground crews and helicopter bucketing.. It is now estimated at over 17,644 hectares. Highway 93S is open; however, there may still be delays due to smoke or fire suppression activities. Check www.drivebc.ca or www.alberta511.ca for updates before you travel for the latest road updates.
Evacuation Orders / Alerts:
• The RDEK currently has evacuation ORDERS in effect in the following areas: Whiteswan Lake, Moyie (north and south), Newgate / West Koocanusa
• The RDEK currently has evacuation ALERTS in effect in the following areas: east side Lake Koocanusa in the Grasmere area, Mission/Fort Steele, Aqam – 36 homes on Reserve
• There are currently NO alerts or orders for any of the municipalities in the East Kootenay.
You can find the evacuation orders and alerts, including maps, on our website at: http://www.rdek.bc.ca/departments/emergencyservices/emergencyinfo/
The Reception Centre is open from 9am to 6pm daily. A large sized map of the Lamb Creek fire was posted there this afternoon and I will continue to post maps of the other fires as we get them from the BC Wildfire Service (along with other information). I will also include the smaller sized ones in the emails – but sometimes it’s nice to be able to look at a bigger map.
Canadian Disaster Animal Rescue Team (CDART) Sets Up:
The CDART team has set up an animal shelter in Cranbrook and are ready to begin accepting small animals (such as dogs, cats, birds and lizards) right away. They are also working on establishing a shelter for larger sized animals in the next few days. The small animal shelter is located at the Kinsmen Arena 1432 2nd Street North (next to the Memorial Arena) in Cranbrook. Pets at the animal shelter are fed, watered, and exercised and there are volunteers with them around the clock. They also have veterinary care available. To register your pet, you can visit them at the Kinsmen Arena. In addition, anyone in the evacuation order areas that had to leave pets behind can contact CDART as they can assist with animal rescue and/or feed/water pets left within the order zone. For more information, visit them at the Kinsmen Arena or call 778-205-4995.
The Air Quality Advisory remains in effect in the East Kootenay and the last couple of days have been extremely smoky. Those conditions are expected to continue for at least a couple of days. Tips to help reduce irriation / impacts from the air quality include keeping indoor air as clean as possible (keep windows and doors closed, run an air conditioner and keep the fresh air intake closed and filter clean, or seek shelter in an air conditioned environment) and avoid strenuous outdoor activity. If you are concerned about the impacts of the air quality on your breathing/health, you are encouraged to talk to your physician about your care plan.
Cranbrook RCMP Seek Assistance:
Cranbrook RCMP is currently investigating three separate fires which occurred in the past few days. On September 2nd around 2am, RCMP were called to a fire at the end of 27th Ave S. The fire was located just off the Rotary Trail and covered an area of about 1000 square feet. This part of the trail is close to homes. At around 0500 am Cranbrook RCMP returned to the area to a fire in a vacant lot near 30th Ave S. The fire covered approximately 400 square feet. On September 4, RCMP attended a third grass fire, once again on 30th Ave S. Approximately 100 square feet of grass land was burned in this incident. The police continue to investigate these fires and are looking for witnesses who may have observed anything suspicious during the times of these occurrences. If anyone has any information about these fires, you are asked to contact the Cranbrook RCMP or Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or email your TIPS to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have had so many kind messages and emails and offers of assistance. It is truly heartwarming. We have also had a number of inquiries from people wanting to donate funds to the firefighters on the front lines. As government employees, firefighters cannot accept money or gift donations; however, you can donate to the Red Cross in honour of the firefighters. You have the opportunity to send emails/messages to the firefighters saying you’ve donated to the Red Cross in their honour. Emails can be sent to Brenda.email@example.com and messages can be mailed to Brenda Christensen 2550 Stahl Road, Cranbrook BC V1C 7B1.