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West Kootenay wildfires: Trozzo Creek evac order downgraded

The fire near Winlaw is over 5,000 hectares
The Trozzo Creek fire as seen from Lemon Creek. Photo: Joel Pelletier

Cooler temperatures and a bit of rain helped calm things down at the Arrow Lakes wildfires over the weekend and into the early part of the week.

About three millimetres of rain fell in the area overnight on Sunday. The cooler temperatures also increased humidity. But the BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) says the larger fuels and deep soil remain highly combustible and need significant rainfall to improve conditions.

BCWS warns that these conditions could change rapidly and fire behavior could increase suddenly. People on evacuation alert should remain vigilant.

As of Monday there were 120 firefighters, 40 pieces of heavy equipment and 5 helicopters assigned to the Arrow Lake Complex with additional aircraft available.

Drone incursion

A drone hindered firefighting efforts in the Arrow Lake wildfire complex on July 28 after it entered the fire’s airspace.

The use of drones near a wildfire is illegal. The restricted airspace includes a radius of five nautical miles around the fire, and to an altitude of 3,000 feet above ground level.

The presence of drones near an active wildfire can slow down, or completely shut down, aerial firefighting efforts, due to safety concerns. If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft, the consequences could be deadly.

Octopus Creek

The Octopus Creek fire was 18,337 hectares as of Tuesday morning.

One of the priority areas on the Octopus Creek wildfire is to continue working on the north flank, building a control line to protect the community of Fauquier from the advancing wildfire and to redirect the wildfire up slope. Crews are making good progress clearing burnable vegetation with hand ignitions and extinguishing hot spots on control lines.

The fire is slowly creeping toward the control lines; however, work continues to reinforce the guard daily. Additional heavy equipment is expected to install new guard in priority areas once the priority lines are set.

A portion of the evacuation order for 152 properties in the Applegrove and Fauquier areas was reduced to an evacuation alert on Aug. 3 while 16 properties south of approximately 15.5 km mark on Applegrove Road remain on evacuation order.

Michaud Creek

The Michaud Creek wildfire was 8,847 hectares as of Tuesday morning.

The objective at this location is to prevent the fire from growing towards the north, north west. Firefighters continue to look for and extinguish spot fires across Johnston Creek with water and hose along with helicopter assistance when visibility allows. Once the Johnston Creek line is completed, crews will continue to work along the fire perimeter towards the west side.

The south flank of the Michaud wildfire and the north of the Renata Creek wildfire have been mostly inaccessible for helicopters due to smoke conditions. The wildfire is being monitored by satellite imagery.

Planned control lines will be constructed as soon as conditions allow, with heavy equipment and planned ignitions where possible.

An evacuation order was downgraded to an evacuation alert on July 26, and on Aug. 2, the alert was also lifted. About 350 properties were affected by the alert.

Renata Creek

The Renata Creek fire was 2,801 hectares as of Tuesday morning.

On the Renata Creek wildfire, crews continue to build and reinforce control lines established in priority areas. The fire continues to back down slowly toward the community.

An evacuation alert remains in place for the community of Renata and any other dwellings within the alert perimeter, on the east shore of Lower Arrow Lake in Electoral Area J.

RELATED: Billions in losses, thousands could die if wildfire response unchanged: report

Trozzo Creek

The Trozzo Creek wildfire was 5,202 hectares as of Tuesday morning.

Fire activity has remained largely stable in recent days with little fire growth over the weekend and into the beginning of the week.

Ongoing challenges include: lack of access to upper Winlaw Creek; lack of water resources at high elevations and difficulties delivering by truck due to rough roads; steep, rocky and complex terrain; a high volume of dead and downed trees; dense smoke that limits visibility and the ability for fixed-wing aircraft to access the fire.

An evacuation order was downgraded to an alert Tuesday for properties south of Popou Road north to Ringrose Creek. An evacuation alert also remains in place for 142 properties.

READ MORE: ‘It is hard. It is fun’: 55-year-old Castlegar area woman becomes firefighter

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