A new fire was discovered Tuesday, July 25 located 56 kilometres south, slightly southeast from Cranbrook, and 27 kilometres west of Koocanusa in the Bloom Creek, Ward Creek area, dubbed by South East Fire Centre as the Ward-Bloom fire. As of Wednesday, July 26 it is 30 hectares in size and grew quickly due to hot, dry weather.
There is a unit crew consisting of 20 individuals accompanied by heavy machinery and bucket-equipped helicopters working on it, as well as four additional people directing the crew and investigating the cause, which has yet to be determined.
“Apparently it’s going well. Right now crews are actively engaging on the fire, trying to work on getting it into a manageable sized behaviour,” said John Boivin, fire information officer for the South East Fire Centre.
There is a great deal of smoke coming off it, visible from satellite images and may also be visible from the Baynes Lake and Koocanusa area and air tankers may be visible in the area.
Currently there are 33 fires burning in the South East Fire Centre, with seven new fires being reported July 25. Five of those new seven were caused by lightning and of the 33 fires in the area, 23 are considered either under control or being held by fire crews. None of the fires in the South East Fire Centre are threatening communities, structures or infrastructure.
The Shepp Creek fire, 35 kilometres east of Elko in the Flathead area, is now under control with eight BC Wildfire firefighters continuing to mop up hotspots, according to a Regional District of East Kootenay Facebook update.
“We’ve had crews on it for about a week there and now it’s at the point where we’re just monitoring it and watching it,” added Boivin. “It’s not threatening any structures, it’s not threatening any communities so it’s at that point where we can step back and put our resources elsewhere.”
The RDEK Facebook post also reported that on the afternoon of Tuesday, July 25 a fifth wheel trailer caught fire while being driven on Newgate Road in the South Country, Lake Koocanusa area. The driver managed to stop and detach the trailer from the vehicle and BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) immediately responded with helicopter support, with support coming from the Baynes Lake Fire Department.
“Officials lend their gratitude to campers and residents in the area who immediately took action and had the fire well in hand before fire crews arrived,” the post read. “The trailer was a total loss; however the situation is an example where things could have been much worse given the tinder dry conditions.”
Temperatures in Cranbrook are forecasted to be in the mid to high 30s over the coming days into next week. This may be accompanied by wind, and a possibility of lightning.
“t’s a low possibility but there’s a possibility for some lightning and for some wind. And those two combined can cause headaches for the firefighter,” said Boivin.
As these extreme weather conditions show no sign of stopping, and no rain in the forecast, Boivin stresses the importance of people remaining vigilant.
“People should be really, really, careful out in the bush, even in their backyards, with fire, be careful with their cigarettes if they’re smokers not to be tossing their cigarettes out the window. Be vigilant and be so careful if you can. When these temperatures get into extremes things can get away on you very quickly.”