Cherry Lake fire grows; Grand Forks on alert

Strong winds and remote terrain contribute to growth of Cherry Lake fire; Stickpin blaze nears Canada's border.

Strong winds are being blamed for the Cherry Lake wildfire growing to 320 hectares overnight after it’s discovery on Tuesday.

Located roughly 25 kilometres west of Lake Koocanusa and 15 kilometres north of the border, the blaze is 35 per cent contained, according to the latest update from the Southeast Fire Centre.

The fire, originally mapped at a size of 25 hectares, is in a remote area and isn’t threatening any structures or communities.

There are currently 29 personnel working the fire, along with six pieces of heavy equipment and five helicopters are bucketing. Air tankers are also going to be utilized to help lay some guards around the fire.

However, the hazy smoke blanketing the region remains a concern for aircraft support.

“It’s all dependent on the visibility, they could be grounded if the smoke gets worse,” said Karlie Shaughnessy, a fire information officer with the Southeast Fire Centre.

Crews have also responded to a small blaze just east of Yahk that has grown to roughly one hectare in size after it’s discovery on Tuesday.

Elsewhere in the Southeast Fire Centre, the Mount Midgeley fire just outside Creston is roughly 90 per cent contained as crews mop up the perimeter.

The fire, visible from the community, was discovered two weeks ago and burned 480 hectares.

However, there is growing concern with the Stickpin fire south of the American border as the perimeter creeps closer to the Canadian side.

As it’s currently mapped, the fire is only five kilometres away from the border and is threatening homes south of the Kettle River and the community of Grand Forks.

In response, the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary has issued an Evacuation Alert and is encouraging residents to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.

The Stickpin fire is 195 square kilometres with 48 fire fighters and four pieces of heavy equipment working on it.

“So they are expecting strong winds from the southeast/southwest and the crews are just creating some guard and establishing some hose lay on the east side of the fire,” said Shaughnessy.

With files from the Canadian Press