A large-scale planned ignition got underway this afternoon to help protect North Shuswap communities from the growing Lower East Adams Lake wildfire.
In a Thursday afternoon (Aug. 17) video update on the 10,000-plus hectare blaze, BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) Fire Information Officer Forrest Tower said a cold front is moving in, bringing strong winds later in the day and through the night. With that, he said there is a probability the fire’s southern flanks will become active and begin spreading embers beyond a guard constructed between the wildfire and the communities of Lee Creek, Scotch Creek and part of Celista, potentially causing spot fires.
Tower said in anticipation of the arriving cold front, BCWS had planned to do an aerial ignition over a 10-kilometre stretch along the completed guard and transmission lines north of Lee Creek and Scotch Creek. He said with winds coming from the south, any ignition would be pushed toward the active wildfire, and explained ignitions are “used commonly in situations like this where there needs to be a large amount of fuel removed in a safe and controlled manner before an almost guaranteed wildfire comes down and affects that area in an out-of-control manner.”
Tower cautioned, “this is a wind event that is fairly severe” and said if there is southern push over night, it will be very difficult “in terms of firefighting efforts, both from a structural perspective and from a wildland firefighting perspective.”
Resident Jim Cooperman called the planned ignition a “Russian roulette” approach to thwarting “the beast from wiping out Lee Creek, our home.” He said a structural protection crew had been in his neighbourhood for two days setting up a 25,000 gallon tank plus hoses and sprinklers on all the nearby houses.
“We are in the midst of a climate boiling emergency and have our bags packed ready to go,” said Cooperman.
Tower advised following the Columbia Shuswap Regional District and Shuswap Emergency Program online (csrd.bc.ca and on Facebook), and the BC Wildfire Service dashboard for further information.