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At the mercy of the weather says Cariboo Fire Centre

The weather’s impact on local wildfires did not go as feared but with Thursday’s prediction of hotter temperatures and winds gusts it will be all about “waiting and seeing,” said fire information officer Melinda Paplawski.
Photo submitted. Guards continue to be established on wildfires burning in the Cariboo Fire Centre.

Wednesday’s weather co-operated in a sense that the wildfires were not activated as much as the Cariboo Fire Centre had feared, fire information officer Melinda Pawplaski told the Tribune Thursday morning.

“We ended up seeing a little bit of clouds and the temperature dropped so we did not get the full effect we planned for and it was not as difficult as we anticipated.”

Today, however, will be another “wait and see” scenario as far as the weather is concerned, she warned.

“There are gusty winds and thunderstorms predicted. We are at the mercy of the weather.”

With the hotter conditions the humidity goes down, Paplawski explained.

“They are working hard with helicopter suppression and the Alberta air tankers are working throughout the Cariboo Fire Centre.”

Similar to the message fire information officer Noelle Kekula shared with the Tribune Tuesday about the wildfires burning west of the Fraser River, Paplawski said the Wildwood Williams Lake Airport, White Lake and Spokin Lake wildfires will continue to burn for months to come.

“These fires are complicated,” she said. “There are so many values at risk such as homes, structures, ranches and power lines.”

Wildwood/Williams Lake Airport wildfire

The latest update for the Wildwood Williams Airport fire estimates its size to be 12,987 hectares.

There are 148 firefighters, 47 pieces of heavy equipment and air support working on the fire Thursday.

“There is lots of work to be done around the perimeter and some tricky spots,” Paplawski said.

Spokin Lake wildfire

The Spokin Lake wildfire has grown to 3,731 hectares as a result of burnoffs this week and growth of the fire, she added.

Today there are 99 firefighters, 26 pieces of heavy equipment and air support on the fire.

“It’s a busy one. We have to watch it from all sides,” Paplwaski said, noting as of first thing Thursday morning she had not heard of any gusty winds and temperatures causing flare ups overnight.

White Lake wildfire

On the White Lake wildfire east of the Fraser River there are 82 firefighters and 28 pieces of heavy equipment supported by aircraft Thursday.

At present the BC Wildfire Update on the website notes the fire is an estimated 4,228 hectares but that is because between Paplawski and fire information officer Noelle Kekula they planned to divide the fire’s reporting in half. Kekula would do west of the Fraser River and Paplawski would do the east side.

However, on Thursday morning Paplawski said they may go back to just reporting both sides as one again so the information will probably be updated later today.

While there hasn’t been any planned large burnouts on the White Lake fire, Paplawski said crews have done some small ones.

Crews working on the west side of the White Lake wildfire worked Tuesday and Wednesday consolidating the control line from the Fraser River west to Buckskin Lake, Kekula told the Tribune late Wednesday.

Hanceville-Riske Creek wildfire

Kekula said crews have been conducting burnouts north of the 900 Road on the west perimeter of the Hanceville-Riske Creek fire and will continue weather permitting.

“They have also done some successful burnouts on the south flank around Fletcher Lake,” Kekula said. “Today (Wednesday) we have 45 First Nations firefighters from Anaham and Stone out there doing mop up. It’s great to have them helping us.”

The size of the fire is still an estimated 132,000 hectares.

A new fire information officer, Rolf Poole from Australia, is responsible for updating information on the fires in the West Chilcotin, she added.

“It is hard for him to have access to the phone out there at Puntzi where he is stationed so he is sending me the updates and I am posting the information on our website,” Kekula said.

She was hoping to get out to Puntzi on Tuesday, but has not yet.

Chezacut wildfire

According to the wildfires of note, the Chezacut wildfire is 10,194 hectares. There are no numbers on resources, however, no structures are under immediate threat and ground crews supported by heavy machinery and aircraft continue to work on containment, including a retardant line.

Kleena Kleene wildfire

Still 5,318 hectares, the Kleena Kleene wildfire continues to be supported by firefighters, local heavy equipment operators and aircraft.

During the last few days crews took advantage of recent cooler conditions and made solid progress. Dozers have been building containment guards on the northwest side of the fire.

“We are still putting dozer guard in at the head of the Colwell Lake fire, southwest of the Kleena Kleene fire. Crews and aircraft have been targeting smoking hot spots that remain in the interior of the burnt are,” the wildfires of note update noted.

Monica Lamb-Yorski

About the Author: Monica Lamb-Yorski

A B.C. gal, I was born in Alert Bay, raised in Nelson, graduated from the University of Winnipeg, and wrote my first-ever article for the Prince Rupert Daily News.
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