The Bill Nye Mountain wildfire at midnight Saturday/Sunday, July 17/18. Trevor Crawley photo

Evacuation order issued for 41 properties in Lazy Lake are due to wildfire

An evacuation order was issued for 41 properties in the Lazy Lake area east of Wasa due to increased fire behaviour from the Bill Nye Mountain Wildfire Tuesday evening.

“The safety of the public and fire crews is our top priority,” says Information Officer, Loree Duczek. “These decisions are not made lightly; and everyone within the evacuation order area needs to leave immediately.”

Emergency Support Services are available for permanent residents who live within the evacuation order area. Those permanent residents are asked to register at the Reception Centre at the Heritage Inn, located at 803 Cranbrook St N., while those who own property as a secondary homeowner or vacationers are encouraged to return to their primary residence.

An evacuation alert for 12 properties in the Lakit Lake and Holmes Road area remains in place, including one property on the Wildhorse Forest Service Road, according to the RDEK.

The Bill Nye Mountain wildfire is estimated at 1,916 hectares and was discovered approximately two weeks ago. Current BC Wildfire Service resources working on it include 40 ground personnel, two helicopters and four pieces of heavy machinery.

The Emergency Information Line remains open at 250-426-2188 or toll free 1-855-346-2188 and information is available on the RDEK’s website

The Bill Nye Mountain wildfire is suspected to be lightning-caused and was discovered on July 8.

While temperatures remain high, smoke is beginning to clear, which will help with aerial suppression and monitoring, according to Donna MacPherson, a fire information officer.

“This will hopefully allow us to get the air tankers — that have been grounded due to the smoke — up into the air and onto some of the fires,” MacPherson said. “So we’re hopeful that’ll happen today as long as the valleys that they want to send the air tankers into aren’t smoked out; so we’re still getting some localized smoke in some of the valleys themselves, but it’s already clearer than it’s been the last few days.”

While heavy smoke shields the ground from the heat of the sun and lowers temperatures, it hinders air operations, MacPherson added.

“It heavily impacts our ability to fly and while the crews are the ones who put the fires out, we use both air tankers…and the helicopters to support the work that crews are doing on the ground. They lose that support, they also lose their eyes in the sky to tell them what’s going on.

“So it just makes it more difficult for our firefighters to work when we don’t have air support.”

The BC Wildfire Service partially completed a planned ignition at the Bill Nye Mountain wildfire on Sunday, burning sections on the south side of the fire and were hoping to address the north side, however, fire conditions and behaviour changed.

“If we had have pulled off that ignition that we wanted to, it would have stabilized the fire on the side that actually burned in the afternoon, that wound up increasing the area bordering the community nearby,” MacPherson said.

Crews are building control lines on the north and west flanks of the fire, using hand tools, heavy machinery and small hand ignitions with drip torches.

MacPherson urges the public to be vigilant about fire safety and doing their part to make sure there aren’t any human-caused fire starts.

Use a water bottle to extinguish cigarettes and anyone using off-road vehicles in the backcountry is advised to stay off of dry grassy areas that could potentially ignite and stick to dirt roads.