The BC Wildfire Service will conduct controlled burns on the Doctor Creek wildfire today (Friday) to help with containment on the southeast perimeter.
The burns could start as early as noon if weather and conditions are favourable and smoke may be visible from surrounding communities.
The Doctor Creek fire, mapped at an estimated 7,900 hectares, is burning roughly 25 kilometres southwest of Canal Flats.
While the B.C. Wildfire has committed a large amount of resources including dozens of firefighters, helicopters and heavy equipment, the fire is located in challenging terrain such as steep slopes, ridges and rocky outcrops.
That means planned ignitions has been one of the most effective containment tactics, while also ensuring the safety of those working on the fire, according to the BC Wildfire Service.
In preparation for the controlled burn, a 600-metre long and 10-metre wide fuel free buffer zone has been prepared, which ties in to a heavy equipment control line on the east flank and a steep rocky avalanche chute to the south.
The objective of the burn is to remove unburned fuels between the fire perimeter and pre-determined control lines, and bring the fire’s edge to more easily accessible terrain for ground crews.
The ignitions will be conducted from helicopters using Plastic Sphere Dispensers and heli-torches. PSDs are mounted to helicopters and accurately drop golf ball-sized spheres onto the landscape that ignite from a chemical reaction once hitting the ground.
From the ground, those aerial ignitions will consume forest fuels and carry the flames back to the fire perimeter and towards pre-determined boundaries.
Two helicopters will be used throughout the day to reinforce control lines with fire retardant and water.
Fire crews continue to patrol the northern flank of the fire and extinguish hot spots within 100 feet of the perimeter, however, resources are being demobilized where no longer required.
There are currently 162 firefighters, seven helicopters and eight pieces of heavy equipment dedicated to the fire, according to the BC Wildfire Service.
The Regional District of East Kootenay recently downgraded an evacuation order to an evacuation alert for the area, however, a provincial area restriction for crown land access remains in place.
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