Fire crews watch from Highway 1 as a water bomber dumps water on the wildfire that sprang up Sunday morning, Sept. 3, below Kault Hill, about eight kilometres west of Salmon Arm. - Image credit: Jim Elliot/Salmon Arm Observer.

Update: Kault Hill fire contained

Highway 1 open to traffic in both directions, 10 firefighting personnel on site.

Update: 2:15 p.m.

Fighting the fire at Kault Hill has been very successful.

Sean Coubrough, fire services coordinator for the Columbia Shuswap Regional District, says: “Crews are making headway on it and have been successful in laying down a wet guard between the fire and the highway.”

On the other side is Shuswap Lake so the fire won’t be heading in that direction.

The CSRD crews, which include Salmon Arm as well as Sunnybrae, Shuswap and Tappen fire departments, were working with BC Wildfire on the blaze.

Two initial attack teams were on the ground along with an air support team.

Just one structure, a home on the highway, was put on evacuation alert.

“At this point we’re feeling high confidence that it should be okay,” Coubrough said, but the residents were being kept on alert until crews were 100 per cent confident of no danger.

Jody Lucius, fire information officer with the Kamloops Fire Centre, reported at 2:15 p.m. Sunday that the fire is approximately two hectares, burning in steep rocky terrain.

She said 10 personnel remain on site, along with one helicopter.

The air tankers and skimmers have completed their work on the fire for the day, now that the immediate threat has been removed.

She said the cause is under investigation.

Once night approaches, she says, crews will assess the situation to see if any night action is required.

Highway 1 is open in both directions, although flag people have been slowing traffic so it doesn’t interfere with fire fighting efforts.

Update: 1:25 p.m.

Salmon Arm Fire Department just returned to quarters, with Fire Chief Brad Shirley commenting that the Kault Hill fire is “well in hand.”

He said fighting the fire has been going really well, and noted that Salmon Arm firefighters were called out as mutual aid to the Columbia Shuswap Regional District crews.

Salmon Arm contributed an engine and a tender to the collective effort.

Update: 11:57 a.m.

Highway 1 has opened to traffic, both lanes, at Kault Hill, about 10 kilometres west of Salmon Arm.

Although no official report yet on the fire which sprung up earlier this morning on the lake side of the Trans-Canada Highway near Tappen, firefighters appear to be winning.

Near the lookout at Kault Hill, as many as five firetrucks have been working on scene, some pumping water from a metal reservoir.

Two skimmer bombers, two that look like Cessnas with floats attached, as well as two larger water bombers have been working hard to get the upper hand on the blaze.

The larger planes have been dumping water on the fire every two or three minutes.

Traffic is now moving slowly but well in both directions.

It’s known that one property owner was placed on evacuation alert – not evacuation order, but no official word yet.

The cause of the fire has not been released, although there has been speculation about whether it might have started by a spark from the train or a cigarette butt. Neither has been confirmed.

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Update: 11:20 a.m.

Four amphibious water bombers – or skimmers – are now hitting the fire hard as it takes off below the Kault Hill lookout.

As well, ground crews are attacking it from the ground.

Highway 1 remains closed in both directions, although flag people are on site.

Sounding a bit like a war zone, planes can be heard droning over Salmon Arm as they fill up in Shuswap Lake.

Boaters must stay out of the area to let the pilots do their job.

RELATED: More crews on ground to fight Peachland fire

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Update: 10:53 a.m.

Both lanes of traffic are closed as two large water bombers hit the fire.

One passerby says the fire is moving up the hillside from the lake, but fire fighters are on it from the ground and from the air.

They commend fire department on fast reaction – “like a well-oiled machine” – with a helicopter on it from above.

“They should be commended on how quickly they quit it.”

DriveBC reports Highway 1 is closed in both directions 10 kilometres west of Salmon Arm. There is no estimated time of opening.

Detours are available via Highway 97B, Highway 97A and Highway 97.

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Original

Traffic is being stopped along Highway 1 west of Salmon Arm after a wildfire broke out on Kault Hill.

Tankers can be seen actioning the fire and emergency crews are controlling highway traffic.

We have a reporter en route to the scene.

More details to come.

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carmen.weld@bpdigital.ca

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