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Hot and dry conditions in forecast for area of Nohomin Creek wildfire, near Lytton

The fire is considered ‘Out of Control’ and evacuation orders are in effect
Night time photos of Nohomin Creek wildfire, about two-kilometeres north of Lytton, B.C. July 14, 2022. (Facebook/Edith Loring Kuhanga)

The Nohomin Creek wildfire has grown to 1,706 hectares.

Growth has occurred uphill on the west border of the fire and a perimeter update will be provided later Monday (July 18).

The Nohomin Creek blaze was initially reported on July 14, and was quickly updated to an ‘out of control’ fire of note as it spread to 250 ha on its first day burning.

Currently, there are no impacts to Highway 1 or Highway 12, but the Lytton Ferry is closed in both directions.

Lytton First Nation has issued evacuation orders and alerts for the surrounding communities.

Sunday, ground crews made progress putting out hotspots and small fires called spot fires.

A spot fire was identified Sunday morning and ground crews have since fully wet-lined the 1.3 ha area.

Control lines using natural or constructed material like retardant or water, create barriers to contain a fire.

A warming and drying trend is forecast for the coming week, which could make the area more susceptible to ignition. The fuel load around Nohomin Creek is heavy, so large amounts of smoke is expected, and intense wildfire behaviour may be observed.

BC Wildfire Service ground and aerial crews have been working to contain the southern, eastern and northern flanks of the Nohomin Creek wildfire, to protect structures like buildings.

Three unit crews are working on the north flank Monday. One crew is building a 50-foot wet line from the eastern flank near the Fraser River, up to the BC Hydro transmission lines. Another unit crew is continuing guard development up a steep mountain ridge on the northern flank. The third unit crew is looking to establish a contingent control line north of the fire.

The western flank of the blaze is now advancing toward the Stein Valley Nlaka’pamux Heritage Park. Lytton First Nation and BC Parks are working together to identify culturally valuable and sensitive sites and creating an action plan.

The western face of the blaze remains active, but much of the terrain is steep and not accessible. Sunday, the fire moved up the western ridge line and partially spilled over into a shale rockface.

Responder safety is the number one priority, and this area poses significant safety challenges, so crews are unable to action the western flank at this time, according to the BC Wildfire Service.

Given the difficult access and priority of firefighter safety, portions of this fire will be put under ‘modified response’.

Modified response is a strategy that uses a combination of suppression techniques to indirectly respond to a wildfire that is not threatening any structures or places of cultural signiificance is beneficial to the ecosystem.

Helicopters provided bucketing support throughout the day yesterday and had good success on both the north and south flanks, allowing crews to safely continue directly attacking the wildfire. Helicopters will be in operation again today.

The airspace over the Nohomin Creek wildfire is currently restricted. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or “drones”) are prohibited for five nautical miles around the fire and up to 3,000 feet vertically. The use of aircraft or drones within this airspace is illegal.

Provincial Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said Friday that neither the village of Lytton nor any other communities are in the fire’s path.

John Haugen, acting chief of the Lytton First Nation, said the fire destroyed six residences and triggered evacuation orders that forced a total of 97 people from his community and about 40 people from neighbouring areas out of their homes.

Officials say the cause of the blaze is unknown but is being investigated.

The total number of fires and area burnt in BC are roughly 40 percent lower than the 25-year average.

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Jacqueline Gelineau

About the Author: Jacqueline Gelineau

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