Mount Law wildfire slowly creeping towards Okanagan Connector | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Mount Law wildfire slowly creeping towards Okanagan Connector

A helicopter bucketing on the Mount Law wildfire near West Kelowna, Aug. 18, 2021.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Melody Kelly
August 20, 2021 - 10:21 AM

A wildfire burning within the City of West Kelowna’s boundaries continues to creep towards Highway 97C.

The Mount Law wildfire has grown but B.C. Wildfire Service information officer Luke Robinson said they don’t yet have an update on the size of the fire and expects it has only increased by a couple hectares.

The wildfire is still not contained on the southern flank so crews will consider options to either build a fire guard in the area, or use the highway as a natural guard, Robinson said. It is currently exhibiting rank two behaviour which is visible, open flame.

There is steep, rocky terrain in the area which has posed a challenge for firefighters, he said.

READ MORE: Rainfall this weekend likely not enough to help firefighting in Kamloops, Okanagan

By building their own guard, it won’t cause the closure of parts of the road and there’s fence lines that would be damaged or destroyed if they rely on the highway to stop the fire, Robinson said.

They’re also considering using skimmers to drop retardant to cool down the wildfire on that side but then crews would be limited in how they could burn away fuels.

“You don’t want to use one tactic and that gets rid of any strategy that may come into play later down the track so we’re identifying our options at the moment and keeping the communities of Peachland and West Kelowna top of mind,” Robinson said.

The biggest challenge for crews is not being able to get heavy equipment into the southern flank of the fire due to the terrain so any guards will have to be constructed by ground crews, he said.

The fire is listed at 800 hectares and classified as out of control. One home has been reported lost in the fire so far.

READ MORE: Rattlesnakes, bears and cougars? No worries for Australian firefighters in South Okanagan

Today, four helicopters are on scene as well as 69 firefighters including crews from Alberta, the Yukon and Newfoundland and Labrador are working on the Mt Law wildfire. There are 30 pieces of heavy equipment on site, Robinson said.

Robinson is also part of the Australian firefighting fleet that was sent to Canada this wildfire season, he said. The entire Okanagan Complex is being managed by an Australian incident management team. The Okanagan Complex, includes the Thomas Creek wildfire near Okanagan Falls, the Brenda Creek wildfire north of the Okanagan Connector and the Mount Law wildfire.

In B.C. there's a lot more dry firefighting because of terrain. In Australia, crews rely more on tankers and water to fight wildfires, Robinson said.

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