Crews fighting fire with fire on South Okanagan blaze | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Crews fighting fire with fire on South Okanagan blaze

From Secrest Road near Oliver, only a small amount of activity from Nk'Mip Creek Wildfire could be seen up in the hills. Photo taken on the evening of Aug. 4.
August 06, 2021 - 2:12 PM

The plume of smoke that can be seen southwest of Penticton today is part of B.C. Wildfire’s plan to subdue the Thomas Creek wildfire.

“This ignition was planned for,” said B.C. Wildfire Service spokesman Mike McCulley. “If we have a successful operation today it will really help to reinforce the northwest flank of the fire.”

The northwest flank is the closest part of the fire to Skaha Bluffs.

“This planned ignition is a very important window for us to capitalize on with this slight wind shift,” McCulley said, adding that today’s ignition will result in “a little bit of growth along the northern flank.”

Today’s operations require emergency crews to be on “extra high alert.”

The plan to fight fire with fire is largely thanks to a change in wind conditions, which began to shift last night. Even in the middle of the night those new wind patterns were beneficial, as they helped crews hold their lines along the northwest flank.

“With the winds right now, there’s a little bit of a cold front coming through, which lowers the temperature by a few degrees, bringing a different wind out of the north-northwest,” McCulley said, explaining that the current seasonal pattern draws winds in more of a southwesterly direction.

“But from the north-northwest, it pushes the fire at a different angle. At the northern and western flanks it will push fire back… we’re going to use this opportunity to do what we can.”

On Aug. 5, one day prior to the planned ignition, the Thomas Creek wildfire was estimated at 10,280 hectares, though an updated estimate will not be posted for a few days, McCulley said.

Last night’s north-northwestern winds were also favourable for the Nk’Mip Creek wildfire near Oliver and Osoyoos.

“A very similar story down there,” he said. “Most of our lines were kept intact last night through those evening winds.”

A structural protection task force is assigned to the Nk’Mip Creek fire, whose job is “patrolling high valley features at night making sure no spotting happens.”

Closer to Peachland, McCulley was happy to report “really good success on the Brenda Creek wildfire.”

Yesterday, Aug. 5, the status of the wildfire changed to “held,” meaning “no more significant growth is expected under current conditions and with current resources,” McCulley said.

That means all evacuation orders and alerts were rescinded around Brenda Creek, and it is no longer listed under “fires of note” on the B.C. Wildfire website.

But while the flames aren’t expected to return, “staff and ground crews are still on that” to ensure it doesn’t pick up again.

“We’re still in early August," he said. "There's lots more dry weather to come.”

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