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Officials keep an eye on fire site
Despite being at extreme risk for wildfires, the Salmon Arm Fire Zone is in pretty good shape.
Local fire protection officer Larry Osachoff says that since Aug. 13, there have been nine new fires in the Salmon Arm zone, two of which were more of a concern – Paradise Point east of Herald Provincial Park and another one on Mt. English near Three Valley Gap.
Paradise Point is in excellent shape, Osachoff said yesterday, noting the area has been patrolled for the last three days.
“There’s no smoke. We’ve had a crew on every day and we’re confident there’s no fire so we’re pulling everything off,” he said, wanting the public to be well aware that the fire that grew to just under one hectare on steep and difficult terrain will be carefully patrolled from the air and by ground over the next several days.
The Mt. English fire is in a Canoe Forest Products timber supply area. It grew to close to 18 hectares on steep terrain with deep timber. That fire was contained but not entirely out on Tuesday afternoon.
“We’ve had our challenges there,” said Osachoff, noting two 20-person unit crews were fighting the fire with access only by ground because of rocks and trees coming down. “Safety is our number one priority and that one has tested us to the fullest degree.”
A sleeper strike from an Aug. 9 storm came to life and was discovered Monday night about half way up Scotch Creek.
“That was reported by the public through industry,” said Osachoff. “We found the fire late Monday but due to heavy winds, we couldn’t go in.”
A Rapattack crew was despatched early yesterday morning and was already in mop-up and patrol stage by mid afternoon.
Osachoff says so far, this year’s fire season with one or two popping up daily has been mostly manageable, but he adds a note of caution that the potential for serious wildfires remains.
“We had a week and a half of lightning and fires will burn for weeks,” he says of holdover lightning strikes that can pop up several weeks later with hot sunny days and high winds. “And we had some very good winds Sunday and Monday.”
A campfire ban is still in effect and the the Salmon Arm Fire Zone has run regular patrols on land and water. For the most part, people have got the message, but those who have been found with campfires have been co-operative in putting them out, he says.
Osachoff says that when the zone has had enough rain to greatly reduce the wildfire threat, the campfire ban will be lifted and people will be able to enjoy whatever is left of the summer.
In the meantime, the public is asked to report a wildfire or prohibited campfire call *5555 on their cell phones or toll-free 1-800-663-5555.