Progress on Rock Creek wildfire, but wind could challenge firefighters

Burnt out vehicles are pictured outside a burnt down residence along Highway 3 in Rock Creek, B.C., Sunday, August 16, 2015. Firefighters have made progress containing the Rock Creek fire east of Osoyoos, but changing weather could be their biggest foe.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

ROCK CREEK - Firefighters have made progress containing the Rock Creek fire east of Osoyoos, but changing weather could be their biggest foe.

The 42-square kilometre blaze is now 50 per cent contained, but forecasts for the boundary region call for a dry, cold front and wind.

"Wind is going to be a challenge for us over the next few days in terms of potentially fuelling some of the existing fires," fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek said Thursday.

Thirty homes and 15 other structures have been destroyed since the human-caused blaze broke out one week ago.

Hundreds of people who left their homes as flames encroached have returned, but they are on alert to leave again at a moment's notice.

The Rock Creek fire is one of more than 200 blazes currently burning across the province, for a total of 1,722 wildfires since April.

Fire officials are keeping a watch on the Stickpin fire burning in Washington state, just south of Grand Forks, in case it crosses the border into B.C.

Staff in the province's southeast fire centre are in "pretty constant communication" with their U.S. counterparts about the state of the fire, Skrepnek said.

B.C. firefighters have been successful in attacking new fires in B.C. over the last week, Skrepnek said. Of 246 wildfires discovered in the last seven days, crews kept all but 35 to less than one hectare in size.

The province has spent $219 million fighting fires so far this year, including $657,000 on a contract for the iconic Martin Mars water bomber.

Skrepnek said about 2,000 people are currently fighting wildfires across the province.

Twenty-five South Africans who have been helping battle a blaze near Harrison Lake are scheduled to return home later this week.


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