The Whitetail Brook fire

Fire season heats up as hot weather continues

Hot, dry weather leads to numerous forest fires around Cranbrook, Kimberley

There were 14 fires burning around Cranbrook and Kimberley Thursday thanks to hot, dry conditions and several lightning storms.

Whiteswan Lake Provincial Park will remain closed for the long weekend as 63 firefighters continue to battle the now 650-hectare Whitetail Brook fire. There are three water tenders, three helicopters and eight pieces of heavy equipment working to contain it, though growth continues to be to the northeast, away from Canal Flats. No communities or structures are threatened.

Whiteswan Forest Service Road is closed from the highway to the 32-kilometre mark. Kootenay Forest Service Road is also closed from the three-kilometre mark to the junction with White Rock Forest Service Road at 34.5 kilometres. And White Rock Forest Service Road is entirely closed.

As well as the closure of Whiteswan Lake Provincial Park and its popular campsite, the road closures mean there is no access to Top of the World Provincial Park.

There are another eight smaller fires in the Whiteswan area, all lightning caused, ranging in size from 100 square metres to a 10 hectare fire just northeast of Whiteswan Lake.

Meanwhile, the Wildfire Management Branch has managed to contain a 10-hectare fire near Koocanusa. Caused by lightning, the Kikomun Creek fire was detected on Tuesday, July 29 and actioned by 10 firefighters, air tankers and helicopters, with the assistance of the Jaffray/Baynes Lake fire department.

The fire is now in the mop-up stage, and firefighters are on scene doing back burning, where they do a controlled burn from the perimeter towards the fire to eliminate fuels.

There is also a small fire nearby, 11 kilometres south of Baynes Lake. A three-person attack crew was working on that fire, also lightning caused.

Elsewhere in the East Kootenay, a small fire is burning near Finley Creek, west of Canal Flats, and another small lightning-caused fire southwest of St. Mary Lake.

The Wildfire Management Branch is urging those who are camping this weekend to be extra careful with campfires as crews are busy with naturally caused fires, and human-caused fires are preventable.

Bring a shovel or keep at least eight litres of water nearby to properly extinguish your campfire.

Campfires cannot be larger than 0.5 metres in height and 0.5 metres in diameter.

Do not light a campfire or keep it burning in windy conditions. Weather can change quickly and the wind may carry embers to other combustible material and start new fires.

You must maintain a one-metre fireguard around the campfire. This is a fuel-free area where all flammable materials (grass, kindling, etc.) have been removed.

Never leave a campfire unattended.

Make sure that the campfire is completely extinguished and the ashes are cold to the touch before leaving the area for any length of time.

To report a wildfire or unattended campfire, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone.

 

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