Wildfire crews lighting small fires to burn fuel pockets on Christie Mountain blaze near Penticton - InfoNews

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Wildfire crews lighting small fires to burn fuel pockets on Christie Mountain blaze near Penticton

Nothing remains but the foundation at 176 Christie Mountain Lane in Heritage Hills, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020. The home was burned by the Christie Mountain wildfire. Residents have since been allowed to return to the community near Penticton.
August 27, 2020 - 12:08 PM

The Christie Mountain wildfire near Penticton continues to exhibit subdued behaviour today as wildfire service crews light small fires by hand to reduce pockets of fuel.

The 2,035 hectare blaze, which was first discovered Aug. 18, is being held and is considered a Rank 1 surface fire. An evacuation order issued for Heritage Hills, around six kilometres south of Penticton, was rescinded on earlier this week and as of yesterday, Aug. 27, all residents were allowed to return to their homes. The community remained under an evacuation alert until early this afternoon, when that too was rescinded.

Crews have been lighting fires by hand on the northeast corner of the fire to burn pockets of fuel, B.C. Wildfire Service said. Smoke from the small fires could be visible.

"This strategy of burning small pockets of fuel is used to consume unwanted fuels between the line and the fire perimeter," according to the wildfire service. "A fire needs three elements to burn: oxygen, heat and fuel. Since we are unable to remove oxygen and heat, the only factor that can be altered is fuel. By modifying or removing fuels through hand ignitions, you can reduce fire behaviour, which helps suppress the fire."

The wildfire service said the hand ignitions also help make the fire more accessible to ground crews.

READ MORE: Home lost in Penticton wildfire belonged to Alberta ministers with checkered past

A B.C. Wildfire Service firefighter can be seen near a small hand ignition on the northeast corner of the Christie Mountain wildfire near Penticton, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020.
A B.C. Wildfire Service firefighter can be seen near a small hand ignition on the northeast corner of the Christie Mountain wildfire near Penticton, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK / B.C. Wildfire Service

There are currently 213 firefighters, 12 helicopters and three pieces of heavy equipment at work on the fire. Patrols continue around the Heritage Hills subdivision between Christie Mountain Lane and Matheson Drive, seeking hotspots.

Other crews are continuing efforts to lay hose on the northeast corner of the fire, establish fuel free lines on the east side and mop up between unit crews. Work also continues in the Skaha Bluffs area, which remains closed to the public.

The wildfire came dangerously close to the subdivision on the night of Aug. 18, when the home of Calvin and Janis Lea Switzer burned at 176 Christy Mountain Lane. It was the only residential structure to be consumed in the blaze.

An area restriction around the Christie Mountain wildfire remains in place but has been reduced in size. For more information on the area restriction go here.

— This story was updated at 2:40 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020 to provide updated details about the evacuation alert for Heritage Hills.


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