B.C. officials say crews did all they could to protect Monte Lake from wildfire | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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B.C. officials say crews did all they could to protect Monte Lake from wildfire

Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Don Tryon
August 10, 2021 - 4:00 PM

B.C. Wildfire Service gave Monte Lake residents plenty of time to prepare their evacuation in front of the White Rock Lake wildfire, provincial officials said during a news conference today, Aug. 10.

Fire crews jumped on the fire within half-an-hour of it being discovered on July 13 but it was already deemed a Rank 4 fire, Rick Manwaring, deputy minister of forests said.

“Rank 4 is often characterized by an organized flame front, a fast rate of spread on the ground and short-range spotting,” he said. “We don’t put people in front of Rank 4 fires. What we do is make recommendations for evacuation orders and alerts in order to get people out of the way of fires exhibiting this type of behaviour.”

Manwaring refused to criticize the efforts of firefighters despite repeated media questions saying that residents felt ignored, that they didn’t have enough warning about the fire approaching and not enough effort was made to protect their homes and businesses.

The White Rock Lake wildfire ripped through the community on Friday, Aug. 6.

READ MORE: Wildfire destroys homes, Monte Lake general store

An evacuation order was issued at 7:45 p.m. on the Wednesday evening prior, Manwaring said. People were told to be out by noon Thursday and the fire hit around noon on Friday.

“When the fire came through that area, I believe backed by 40 kilometre per hour winds gusting to 60 kilometre per hour winds, it was at a Rank 6 fire behaviour level,” Manwaring said. “It was very challenging, even for structural protection units to protect properties. We know there was some success but I don’t have the details on all the individual properties.”

He could not say how many structures were destroyed or how much financial damage was caused by the fire.

Cool wet weather over the weekend calmed the White Rock Lake and other wildfires but temperatures are heating up so much that heat warnings are being issued for later this week.

The White Rock Lake fire stretches from Westside Road north of West Kelowna to Monte Lake.

Manwaring could not say which communities may be most threatened by the fire if it grows in the coming days but did say it’s pressing to the west, to the north and northeast and, to some degree, to the southeast.

“Our priority with the wildfire services is life and property,” he said. “We have a large number of fires of note and, in this particular fire season, a large number of fires in the interface area. That is our priority. We focus, almost entirely with this scale of fire, on where is the greatest risk and that is the community risk around these fires.”

B.C. Wildfires has responded to 1,453 wildfires so far this year with nearly 652,700 hectares burned. That compares to the 10-year average for this time of year of 960 fires with 140,000 ha burned.

There are currently, 262 active wildfires, 31 of which are termed wildfires of note.

There have been 185 fires due to natural causes and 16 that were human caused.

The fires are being fought by 3,549 firefighters.

There are 63 evacuation orders in place, affecting 6,219 properties. There are another 108 evacuation alerts in place for 31,903 properties.

For a map of the White Rock Lake fire perimeter, go here.

For more on wildfires of note, go here.


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