Water-scimmer air tankers finished dousing the Marble Point fire north of Sicamous from the air for the day, leaving the rest up to ground crews.
Fire information officer Taylor MacDonald confirmed Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 4, that the one-hectare fire was still classified by Wildfire BC as out of control, with a ground crew working it.
“Water skimmers have completed their objectives for the day on that fire,” she said about 2 p.m., noting there were 25 personnel responding on the ground. Along with one unit crew of 20 people, one officer and four initial-attack personnel were on site.
She said aircraft were not able to completely extinguish the fire because it would smoulder under the ground.
Brent Graf, who’s been running Bigwater Taxi on Shuswap Lake for the past eight years, was one of the first people to spot the fire about 10 p.m. on Aug. 3.
He was heading back from the Shuswap Shark Shack when he and another boater stopped at the blaze, which was too big – times 10, he said – to be a campfire.
Graf flicked on his boat’s large spotlight, but the brush was too thick and the fire was about 100 feet up the face of the bluff to be accessible.
It was just south of Marble Point, about halfway between Sicamous and Cinnemousun Narrows on the east side of Shuswap Lake.
After the fire was reported to Wildfire BC, Graf informed houseboaters and cabin owners about it. Meanwhile, it grew rapidly, he said.
The next morning, Aug. 4, Wildfire BC struck the blaze from the air, as it was in steep terrain. Helicopters were followed by amphibious air tankers.
“They’ve put about 20 laps on it already,” he said about 12:30 p.m., explaining that about six or seven bombers were taking turns dousing the blaze.
Graf said the fire looked like it was close to being out, and he expected ground crews would be taking care of any remaining hot spots.
He added that he received word from at least 10 people who said they heard or saw fireworks go off in the area about an hour prior to the blaze.
Wildfire BC made a request via Twitter that boaters stay away from firefighting aircraft on Shuswap Lake.
“This is dangerous, both to the public and to our personnel, and interferes with critical firefighting operations. Please stay away from active wildfire sites on the ground, and on the water,” read the statement.
We’ve had issues with boaters interfering with firefighting aircraft on Shuswap Lake. This is dangerous, both to the public and to our personnel, and interferes with critical firefighting operations. Please stay away from active wildfire sites on the ground, and on the water. pic.twitter.com/yxiQOO7v7Y
— BC Wildfire Service (@BCGovFireInfo) August 4, 2020