B.C. wildfire 20 per cent contained, alert in effect
The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, August 21, 2012 9:26PM PDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 23, 2012 9:51AM PDT
CLINTON, B.C. -- Twenty-four hours of back breaking effort has partially tamed a wildfire burning in B.C.'s Cariboo region at Big Bar Creek, 40 kilometres west of Clinton.
"Thanks to hard work from crews, equipment and aircraft (Wednesday), the fire is now 20 per cent contained," said fire information officer Jenny Fremlin.
She said the blaze had blackened just over four square kilometres of woodland, up from one square kilometre on Wednesday morning, but crews were optimistic about making further inroads.
"The objective for the day will be further containment by building more fuel-free areas, setting up water delivery systems and cooling the fire with water bucketing and hoses," she said.
Wildfire management officials said 117 firefighters and a specialized incident management team remained assigned to the blaze on Thursday.
An evacuation order was downgraded to an alert on Wednesday but most of the 40 people in about 15 homes, and another 40 guests of a nearby resort ranch, defied the command to get out, saying they were confident of their escape plans.
"I figured, you know, all those people on the fire scene would do their job to get the fire gone and I wouldn't go," said area resident Fred Bressler.
"I have an escape zone where I can go with my truck . . . We know we could go out the Big Bar Road, because it was completely safe to go that way."
Bressler said he hadn't heard much from his neighbours or those who live in areas more directly threatened by the flames because fire has taken out utilities.
"The power line that goes down to the Big Bar ferry is kaput," he said. "The fire burned six power lines, so there's no power going through there and the telephone doesn't work."
Thompson-Nicola Regional District spokesman Jason Tomlin said scaling back to an evacuation alert would be a relief to people living in the fire zone, but he cautioned them to remain alert.
"Everyone can go back home and conduct business as usual, of course keeping in mind they are on alert, so if things do change they will potentially have to leave at a moment's notice," he said.
Norm Dove, of the Echo Valley Ranch and Spa, said guests were still coming to the resort, about 15 kilometres from the fire, and he suggested reports of the blaze were overstated.
"It would be good if the media would tone it down," he said.
"We have friends and relatives that are more concerned about this than we are -- and we're here."
A local state of emergency continues in the Thompson-Nicola Regional District after being declared late Tuesday when flames, believed to have been started by a house fire, threatened the homes near Big Bar.
Dozens of new wildfires have been reported in the Kamloops Fire Centre since Tuesday.
One of them, a grass fire near Vernon, was ignited by a bird, said deputy fire chief Lawrie Skolrood.
Skolrood said the bird flew into a transmission box and caught fire before falling onto the grass and starting the fire on Wednesday.
Information officer Michaela Swann said a fire burning in the Okanagan near Oyama, north of Kelowna, grew to nine hectares but did not threaten any homes and had been completely contained by Wednesday night.