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Planned ignition on Crater Creek blaze will put up visible smoke around Keremeos

BC Wildfire implements Area Restriction Order for 44K hectare Crater Creek fire
An example of hand ignitions, which are an important part of wildfire response. BC Wildfire will be conduction planned ignitions on the Crater Creek fire on Monday. (BCWS)

Keremeos area residents may see increased smoke and fire activity from the Crater Creek wildfire because of a planned ignition on Monday, said BC Wildfire Services.

“It looks like weather will be in our favour on Monday to do a planned ignition in the northwest corner,” said BC Wildfire information officer Scott Southwell on Sunday. “So when people see smoke, it doesn’t mean the fire is acting up.”

The ignitions will be in the Paul’s Creek drainage area to take out unburned fuel, he said.

“There are a lot of environmental assets we really want to protect.”

The cross-border Crater Creek wildfire southwest of Keremeos hasn’t grown in five days and still remains at 44,000 hectares, as of Sunday morning, Aug. 27.

On Sunday, air crews laid a couple retardant lines down to protect the Twin Butte cabin area near Cathedral Lakes Lodge.

“It’s a precautionary measure to save that cabin because there is no water in that area and to remove fuel for the fire,” said Southwell.

On Friday, Cathedral Lakes Lodge released aerial photos of how close the wildfire came to its doors. Burned trees surround the wilderness lodge located in Cathedral Provincial Park.

The fire did destroy the lodge basecamp and equipment. A bridge that crosses the Ashnola River to the lodge and park property was also destroyed by the Crater Creek fire.

Fire crews have been working hard to build guards and attack areas where there is a lot of unburned fuel. But the ground to cover is massive and most of the terrain steep, Southwell added.

“This is a really large fire ground and we are coordinating our efforts with our counterparts in the south.”

Area Restriction Order

The BC Wildfire Service has implemented an Area Restriction Order within the vicinity of the Crater Creek wildfire as of Aug. 26 and remains in force until Sept. 8 or until the Order is rescinded.

This area restriction of Crown land reflects the need to protect the public and BC Wildfire Service personnel safety in areas where fire suppression activities are taking place.

Access to private residences are permitted but the public must remain out of active fire areas, said BC Wildfire.

Click here for the full list of restricted areas.

Evacuation Alerts Rescinded

Evacuation alerts were rescinded for properties within the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen and over 30 properties in the Lower Similkameen Indian Band (LSIB) on Friday night.

READ MORE: Evacuation alerts ended for properties affected by Crater Creek wildfire near Keremeos

In a statement on Friday by the LSIB Emergency Operation Centre director, the fire’s diminished threat to homes led them to rescind the alerts.

“Based on the determination by the primary response agency the threat level of the Crater Creek wildfire has significantly diminished. At this time the event no longer poses an imminent threat to the health, safety and property of the Lower Similkameen Indian Band,” they wrote in a press release. “The Lower Similkameen Indian Band Council and Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) will continue to monitor the Crater Creek wildfire in case significant developments occur and the re-instatement of an evacuation alert is required.

A total of 13 properties along Ashnola Road d and Ewart Creek Rd. remain on evacuation order and an additional 80 properties are on alert.

READ MORE: Crater Creek wildfire near Keremeos sees no growth; evacuation orders still in place

On Aug. 23, an Incident Management Team assumed command of the Crater Complex.

Luckily the Cathedral Lodge was saved from burning, but just barely.

There are eight helicopters assigned to the Crater Complex which includes the Upper Park Rill Creek wildfire and the Crater Creek wildfire.

Sixteen pieces of heavy machinery are working this lightning-caused fire.

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Monique Tamminga

About the Author: Monique Tamminga

Monique brings 20 years of award-winning journalism experience to the role of editor at the Penticton Western News. Of those years, 17 were spent working as a senior reporter and acting editor with the Langley Advance Times.
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