Oliver firefighters looking for reprieve from battling Willowbrook wildfire

Oliver Volunteer Fire Department and BC Wildfire Service crews continue to work to put out a 130 hectare wildfire near Willowbrook. This image provided by B.C. Wildfire Management was taken on Tuesday, July 21, 2015.
Image Credit: B.C. Wildfire Management Branch

PENTICTON - Oliver Volunteer Fire Department members are starting to feel the effects of fighting a wildfire while attempting to conduct their daily routines.

The department continues to send firefighters up into the mountains above the Village of Willowbrook to assist B.C. Wildfire Management crews put out the Willowbrook fire, which began Monday, July 20.

Fire Chief Dan Skaros says the volunteers are starting to “find it tough” fighting the fire, while working their regular jobs. He says his members did “an awesome job” Monday to contain the blaze when it burned within 100 metres of a house southwest of Willowbrook.

Skaros says Monday was the toughest night, but crews continue to work shifts to contain spot fires and put out burning logs. A power line running through the fire zone is also being protected from flames.

He says the fire continues to burn over an area that previously burned in 1969. He says the steep, rocky terrain contains lots of grass and other debris to fuel the flames. Although not considered an interface fire at this point, he continues to be concerned about the possibility of the fire changing direction and threatening homes.

“Forestry crews have pretty well knocked it down, but things get sketchy with wind,” Skaros says.

Three residences were threatened by flames in the early stages of the fire.

B.C. Wildfire Management says the fire had grown to 130 hectares and is 80 per cent contained. Increased activity along the fire’s south flank yesterday resulted in spotting activity and ultimately another 50 hectares of growth to the south.

Two helicopters, heavy equipment, 36 firefighters and between four and 10 Oliver volunteers have been working the blaze. The Willowbrook Volunteer Fire Department also assisted during the early stages of the fire.

Porta tanks are staged on the Willowbrook Road July 23 as crews continue to work the Willowbrook fire, which broke out Monday, July 20.
Porta tanks are staged on the Willowbrook Road July 23 as crews continue to work the Willowbrook fire, which broke out Monday, July 20.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad at sarstad@infonews.ca or call 250-488-3065. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

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