Similkameen residents on watch for spot fires from Snowy Mountain blaze | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Similkameen residents on watch for spot fires from Snowy Mountain blaze

The east flank of the Snowy Mountain wildfire as seen from south of Cawston on on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/B.C. Wildfire Service
August 03, 2018 - 12:15 PM

KEREMEOS - The Snowy Mountain wildfire sparked spot fires across the Similkameen River after strong winds stirred the east flank of the blaze late yesterday, but B.C. Wildfire and Keremeos Fire Department crews managed to extinguish them before they could pose a threat to structures.

B.C Wildfire reports this morning, cooler temperatures and a mix of sun and cloud with a chance of showers is predicted for the area today, Aug. 3.

Structural protection specialists will be assessing valley bottom properties along Chopaka Road and burn-offs of the fire’s southeast flank will continue with ground crews and helicopters. Winds are expected to strengthen this afternoon from the west-southwest, gusting to 35 km/h.

The regional district Emergency Operations Centre has issued an evacuation order for three properties in the vicinity of Chopaka Bridge today.

Regional district director and Cawston resident George Bush says he doesn’t feel threatened by the over 6,500 ha blaze, as there is considerable greenery on the valley bottom and barren ground on the mountain’s lower approaches, providing a buffer for the flames.

“Sparks blew across the river with this horrible wind we had last night. They started a few spot fires, but they got them out. Things have settled down quite a bit today,” he said, adding fire officials are saying the fire could burn well into September and reach up to 20,000 ha in size.

Bush says smoke is probably the biggest issue for valley residents right now, but notes people will have to be vigilant for spot fires.

The Village of Keremeos said the fire will be considered a priority fire by B.C. Wildfire as long as structures are at risk. Fires lines have been established to the east and a ridge of controlled burn is planned for the top of K Mountain south, to prevent ash and debris from creeping over the mountain’s north face.

B.C. Wildfire will be assisted soon by 300 firefighters from Mexico and 60 resources specialists from Australia and New Zealand.

The Village of Keremeos has requested advance notification of changes in wind direction to advise residents if blowing embers could be a threat to the community.

Additionally, the village’s fire department is conducting night shift patrols for the foreseeable future, watching for possible spot fires and flare-ups.

The Similkameen’s other major fire on Placer Mountain, 37 km south of Princeton, is now 50 per cent contained. B.C Wildfire reports significant progress has been made on the over 2,300 ha blaze. The Placer Mountain fire is now considered an interface fire after Cathedral Provincial Park was closed and Cathedral Mountain Lodge evacuated earlier in the week.

Go here for the latest evacuation orders and alerts from the Regional District of the Okanagan-Similkameen.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 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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