Crews making progress at Baynes Lake fire

Blaze is roughly 75 per cent contained; reinforcements arrive from Ontario to help out.

Trevor Crawley

The Baynes Lake wildfire is roughly 75 per cent contained and mapped at 117 hectares, as updated by the RDEK on Tuesday afternoon.

However, wind is in the forecast and officials will be watching the weather carefully to respond if necessary. There is the chance of a thunderstorm system coming through the area with limited precipitation and wind gusts that could potentially be up to 60 kilometres per hour.

The Baynes Lake area and the Kragmont community remain on an evacuation alert, however, officials encourage residents to be prepared to leave immediately if an evacuation order is issued.

A planned burn-off on Monday to burn away fuel towards the fire was successful and helped created a containment line.

The Rocky Mountain Unit Crew, which focused on the southeast corner of the fire on Tuesday, is getting relieved by a sustained action crew that has been brought in from Ontario.

There are currently 47 firefighters and four pieces of heavy equipment—along with helicopters and air tankers as needed—working on the fire.

In another area of RDEK jurisdiction, a fire near Spillimacheen hasn’t grown and remains at 54 hectares in size.

The fire is roughly 30 per cent contained and is burning north of the highway.

There are 43 firefighters, five pieces of heavy equipment and aerial support attacking the blaze. Two nearby homes have been protected by the RDEK’s Windermere FIre Structural Protection Unit, while one other remains under an evacuation alert.

In an update from the provincial government, Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, confirmed that 70 personnel were arriving from Ontario to assist with wildfire efforts.

“Because wildfire activity is increasing throughout the province, our firefighting capacity is becoming challenged,” said Thomson. “We are very grateful for the help we are receiving from our partners in Ontario.”

The group, which includes sustained-action firefighters and other specialized personnel, will be split between Cranbrook and Abbotsford, where they will be deployed as needed.

Additionally, two amphibious skimming aircraft, one bird dog, and an air attack officer arrived in Kamloops on Tuesday.

There are roughly 1,000 of B.C.’s 1,400 firefighters currently deployed to combat fire activity across the province.

As reported by the ministry on Monday, there were 23 new fires that bring total activity up to 184 active wildfires within B.C. To date this season, the B.C. Wildfire Service has responded to 887 wildfires.

There is currently a province-wide fire ban in effect that can bring heavy consequences if violated. Failure to abide by the order can result in a $345 fine, an administrative penalty of $10,000 or, if convicted in court, a fine of up to $100,000 and/or one year in jail.

Human-caused wildfires are preventable and the public is B.C.’s first line of defence against forest fires. Please be diligent when in the backcountry, and report all wildfires to 1 800 663-5555 or *5555 on your mobile phone.