Fires burning near Moyie, Lake Koocanusa

Fires burning near Moyie, Lake Koocanusa

Wildfire season shows no sign of abating, as crews continue to work on containing a few blazes in the region.

Holdover lightning from a few weeks ago is the suspected cause of a fire out on the west side of Moyie Lake in the Lamb Creek area that has blown up to over 100 hectares on Tuesday.

Fire information officer Karlie Shaughnessy says there are 20 personnel, four pieces of heavy equipment, air tankers and one helicopter that are working on it.

In response to the fire, the Southeast Fire Centre prohibited watercraft access to Moyie Lake on Tuesday evening to allow firefighting aircraft to do their job without endangering anyone.

“When firefighting aircraft such as air tankers or helicopters are working on an active fire and picking up water, they need plenty of room to manoeuvre to do their job safely,” reads a release from the Southeast Fire Centre. “Recreational boaters or people using other using other watercraft who try to get a close-up look at these aircraft present a serious safety risk for air crews and anyone else in the area.”

Conservation officers and RCMP can issue violation tickets that include penalties such as $1,150, while the maximum administrative penalty is $100,000 under the Wildfire Act.

The Lamb Creek fire is not threatening any structures or communities and is located in a remote area that is unrelated to a previous fire in the area that burned a few weeks ago.

A large wildfire active for the last week has jumped the border out near the Newgate area of Lake Koocanusa, and has burned 30 hectares on the Canadian side and 526 hectares on the American side.

The Canadian response includes 19 personnel, two pieces of heavy equipment and two helicopters.

Closer to Cranbrook, a small fire just over a hectare in size is burning in the Booth Creek area west of New Lake and caused by suspected holdover lightning. Shaughnessy said there are eight personnel and two pieces of heavy equipment making good progress.

On Monday, before a haze settled into the Rocky Mountain Trench, a large smoky plume out towards Fisher Peak was visible, caused by the Quinn Creek fire burning just outside Top of the World provincial park.

“The fire burning in the Quinn Creek area has been producing large amounts of smoke during peak temperature times, so late afternoon,” Shaughnessy said. “People can expect to see all the fires produce smoke in the higher temperatures of the day.”

The fire danger rating around Cranbrook is considered high to extreme, as prohibitions remain on campfires and off-highway vehicle activity in the backcountry.

The Southeast Fire Centre is currently dealing with 42 active fires.

This season, 310 fires have burned 20,295 hectares within the district, doubling the five-year average of 319 fires that typically burn 8,205 hectares.