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Cabin saved from Thomas Creek Wildfire

BC wildfire took this picture of the Thomas Creek fire in Okanagan Falls.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/B.C. Wildfire
July 26, 2021 - 5:15 PM

The Thomas Creek wildfire burning near Okanagan Falls has challenged the crews battling it back in the last couple of days but there’s been one sliver of good news.

“Our crews were able to successfully defend a cabin called the 18 kilometre Cabin on the 201 Road,” Mike McCauley of the B.C. Wildfire Service said.

“The fire was very active yesterday afternoon due to the winds and heat… and our crews were in there doing their work and they defended that with a tactical ignition operation, so they were able to do that successfully in very small and safe chunks to burn the fuel off around the cabin.”

After the fire moved through the area, the cabin was still standing.

“If you've ever been around a crew when they've lost that objective, it's devastating for them, and they take it very personally,” McCauley said.

“I was very excited for them. I'm proud to represent them here and I know they'll be feeling good about that work.”

While that was a bright light, the fire has been causing a lot of problems.

“The most active flame for the fire will be the North West section, we have seen significant growth on that fire,” McCauley said.

“It's listed today at about 7,200-plus hectares but we know it’s bigger than that. It’s very smoky in that northwest section today, which makes it very challenging to map, and we saw an increase in fire behaviour.”

That's the portion where the 18 kilometre cabin was defended successfully last night, but McCauley said sections of the 201 Road, past that area, are very unsafe right now.

“The fire behaviour is high and it’s really challenging for crews to get in there and move around so we've seen that fire grow and grow.”

It's starting to move towards the ridge and will eventually move a little closer to the Kettle River drainage.

“That'll be the next challenge for us,” he said. “When these things happen we are looking always at our evacuation orders and our alerts, and we will be watching that closely, talking to our partners in local government.

“We may be making recommendations (to) changing those to continue to protect life and property and make sure everybody's safe.”

The better news on this fire would be on the south flank, and west flank.

He said crews have done great work in there with the support of the public.

“Obviously, that fire is very quiet down in that section,” he said. “Our crews were in there for several days, that was the high priority area for us for a long time.”

Now some of the fire equipment is coming out as the fire behaviour gets quieter.

“When we take the equipment away it's because the risk is lower, and it also helps us on the higher priority spots,” he said.  “So we're going to be doing that on that western portion today.”

He said to watch closely for evacuation alerts.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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