Smoke from the Elephant Hill wildfire seen from the butte in Lone Butte yesterday, Aug 30. Max Winkelman photo.

Aug 31: “Quieter day” on Elephant Hill fire

Still some growth towards Sheridan Lake

9 p.m. update: “Definitely a quieter day in terms of weather overall and that comes with quieter fire behaviour as well. Still active across the north of the fire, but in terms of what we’er been seeing in proceeding days, generally a calmer day,” says Elephant Hill Fire Information Officer Claire Allen.

Most of the recent growth on the fire occurred overnight yesterday, says Allen.

“The fire is definitely still active so it did move a bit closer to Sheridan Lake,” she says, adding that as the smoke never really cleared during the day it’s been difficult to ascertain how close the northern finger of the fire has moved to the lake.

“Our crews are working to get around it and the aviation resources did the best that they could given the poor visibility today.”

Two groups of water skimming air tankers from Quebec worked off of Green Lake and Sheridan Lake today, says Allen.

“Their main objectives were to the south of Green Lake as well as to the west of Sheridan Lake and to the east of Watch Lake just to cool down fire behaviour to allow our crews and heavy equipment to put containment lines in and work to do direct attack as they were able to get in there establishing pump and hose systems to extinguish fire as it is encroaching in certain areas.”

Allen says they are working with structural firefighters to protect buildings.

“To my knowledge, I don’t know of any structural impact to main buildings,” she says.

The evacuations that took place yesterday included approximately 729 people, according to the CRD. The areas put on alert affected about 3,136 people.

12:30 p.m. update: The Elephant Hill fire has expanded to 181,273 hectares in size, according to the BC Wildfire Service.

“That’s still an estimate at this time. It is quite smokey on the fire and we do have the aviation resources still looking to determine exactly where the growth has occurred,” says Claire Allen, Fire Information Officer.

She says she expects an update this afternoon regarding the growth towards Sheridan Lake.

“A lot of that growth is inclusive of that finger that moved up. We hadn’t been able to map that until this morning so that includes that, as well as the growth in the Jim Mountain and Jim Lake area to the south of Green Lake and that bit of fire, what we are calling a finger, moving around the Hihium area so it’s inclusive of those recent growths that we’ve had in the past 48 hours.”

Still, she says the situation remains smokey and dynamic.

Water bombers working on the fire are provided by the province of Quebec, says Allen, through an agreement with the Interagency Forest Fire Centre, the governing wildfire body between Canadian bodies.

The planes are CL-415s and are referred to as Super Scoopers.

Original story: There was no movement north from the run towards Jack Frost Lake the fire had taken, says Fire Information Officer for the Elephant Hill fire, Claire Allen. She says it appears there has been growth to the east towards Sheridan Lake, however.

“What we’re doing is getting our aviation resources moving around that growth and assessing how far it moved and getting our crews in there to start laying some ground work to get containment on that as soon as possible.”

She says updates will come once there’s an accurate estimate of growth.

“Our operations folks are still up in the air right now getting a better look at where the fire grew last night. We do know some growth did occur. It was quite active and windy last night until about 1 in the morning and then the wind slackened down and we actually were granted a bit of a reprieve in terms of an increase in the relative humidity up to approximately 70 per cent in the more active areas of the fire. That really helps put a lid on some of the more volatile and aggressive fire behaviour.

“Unfortunately it came quite late in the wee hours of the morning there so we did see some continued growth overnight which is unfortunately when our aviation resources cannot fly to respond. We did have night crews teamed up with structural firefighters to monitor the situation but when fire growth is moving at such a quick pace just given the winds that we were seeing, it’s unfortunately not safe to do direct attack given how quickly the fire moves and how volatile it is.”

It’s still quite active but not immediately threatening structures in the Hihium Lake area, she says. Generally, things are quite quiet on the fire right now, but they’re expecting an increase in fire behaviour to similar things they’ve been seeing in the last 48 hours with midday heating, says Allen.

Skimmers are working off of Green Lake and they have all resources responding, says Allen.

“At this time, we are just asking folks to be respectful of the ongoing wildfire operations and the skimming that is occurring. Some sides of both [Green Lake and Sheridan Lake] are still open to the public but we really do urge that folks stay clear and if they’d like to go out on the water just hug the shoreline and be respectful of our pilots and water bombing operations.”

Related: Evacuation order south of Highway 24

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