July Mountain wildfire grows by 12,000 hectares | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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July Mountain wildfire grows by 12,000 hectares

The Brook Creek wildfire, now encompassed by the July Mountain wildfire, burning near Brookmere, caused the community's evacuation on Aug. 14, 2021.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Scott Nelson
August 17, 2021 - 5:36 PM

Significant growth at the July Mountain wildfire has prompted the B.C. Wildfire Service to create a new incident management team for the wildfire, plus one more near Princeton.

The decision also arose out of frustrations from Lower Nicola residents who were seeking more information on both the Lytton Creek and July Mountain wildfires, according to fire information officer Charlene Mortensen.

On Aug. 17, a wildfire information session via Zoom, arranged by the Thompson Nicola Regional District, provided updates to residents on the wildfire situation throughout the region, which included fire information officers from the wildfire service. However, a Lytton complex information officer was not present and a July Mountain wildfire update provided little insight besides a new size update.

The July Mountain wildfire, roughly 40 kilometres south of Merritt, has been burning adjacent to the Coquihalla Highway since July 13, but after crossing to the highway and merging with the Brook Creek wildfire, it grew to roughly 8,000 hectares as of Aug. 16.

On Aug. 17, it's now reached 20,860 hectares, according to the wildfire service, and the Thompson Nicola Regional District has indicated that it has claimed some properties in the area.

Mortensen said the wildfire has been growing northeast of the Kingsvale area.

READ MORE: 'One extreme to another': Crews work to contain Thompson-Okanagan wildfires in cooler weather

In an emailed statement to iNFOnews.ca, emergency operations information officer Priscilla Kazarian said structures were lost in Kane Valley. The regional district is expecting to have more information available when they assess the area in the coming days.

The Coquihalla Highway has been reopened to only essential travel. According to DriveBC, rest stops are closed and there is no access off of the highway in the over 100 km stretch between Peers Creek Road and Merritt.

Drivers are also warned to watch for emergency crews, wildfire debris and wildlife. Drivers should also lower speeds and use extra caution without stopping.

Check the DriveBC website for updates to road closures.

The incident management team being assembled for the July Mountain wildfire will also be managing the Garrison Lake wildfire southwest of Princeton.

The wildfire service continues to use helicopters to bucket the area around Highway 5, and after an assessment by the Ministry of Transportation, Mortensen said the decision to open the highway for essential travel was borne out of the need for an egress route for residents in the area.

READ MORE: Okanagan Indian Band working on recovery plan after homes, business destroyed by wildfire

Residents of Merritt are currently under evacuation alert due to the Lytton Creek wildfire, which as grown to roughly 71,323 hectares.

Cooler temperatures and rain is bringing minimal fire activity, but mudslides along Highway 1 have challenged crews on Aug. 17, according to the B.C. Wildfire Service.

Highway 1 remains closed due to a mudslide between Lytton and Cache Creek.

Dangerous trees along Highway 8 are being taken down on Aug. 17, and B.C. Hydro is fixing downed power lines in the area.

READ MORE: Recent rain, cooler weather means things looking up for Southern Interior wildfire crews

Firefighters are continuing their efforts to attack the blaze near the highway directly to create safe passage for emergency vehicles and protect structures.

On the west flanks, fire guards in the Izmen Creek area are expected to be completed, while heavy equipment is being used to remove vegetation and widen the Laluwissin Forest Service Road.

According to the wildfire service, there are 87 firefighters at the Lytton Creek wildfire, with 11 helicopters and 24 heavy equipment units.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 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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