Puntzi Lake fire tempered by rain and cooler weather

Sunday's seven millimetres of rain and cooler temperatures are having an impact on the Puntzi Lake fire.

Tsi Del Del Chief Percy Guichon and two band councillors flew over the Puntzi Lake fire Sunday afternoon and were relieved to see things are looking better.

“We have way less smoke in our community,” he told the Tribune. “We could see that the seven millimetres of rain that fell today and the cooler temperatures are helping.”

The fire is now estimated at 8,089 hectares, however, Cariboo Fire Centre information officer Kelsey Winter said Sunday afternoon the increase from the earlier measurement of 7,000 hectares is not because the fire has grown, but because with less smoke in the air it was easier to do a tight line map.

At present no air tankers are being deployed on the fire because it is now considered rank two, meaning it’s in a smouldering surface stage.

“We just have ground crews working now,” she said, noting they are hoping for more rain and expecting cooler temperatures overnight.

As of Sunday morning, the fire has been 30 per cent contained on the southwest flank.

From the air, Guichon saw the fire had reached the Chilcotin River on the east, but it didn’t jump.

This is not the first time Tsi Del Del has been put on evacuation alert, although the community has never been evacuated, Guichon said.

“It’s very tragic and something to see the devastation from the air,” he said of the properties that were lost. “It has been an emotional time.”

His aunt and uncle were evacuated and are staying in Williams Lake, and there are many people in his community who have opened their homes to others who were evacuated.

The Tsi Del Del band office has been open today and busy with Puntzi Lake residents coming in looking for maps and any new information.

“People are anxious to get into see their homes, but there are safety issues because of hydro, so they will have to wait,” Guichon said.