The Kimberley RCMP completed a patrol of the St. Mary Lake area on Tuesday morning. (Kimberley RCMP file).

Winds could pose challenge for Meachen Creek Complex firefighting efforts

Fire could push past current boundaries, says Incident Management Team.

The B.C. Wildfire service has released the latest update from the Meachen Creek Complex Incident Management Team.

The 22-person team was brought in from Ontario on Sunday to manage the Meachen Creek fire, the Lost Dog fire and the Mount Dixon Fire; all three referred to as the Meachen Creek Complex.

Meachen Creek Fire

The Meachen Creek Fire is still estimated at 6996 hectares in size. There are 21 firefighting personnel on site, three helicopters, and seven pieces of heavy equipment.

This wildfire is located in the Kianuko Provincial Park and the Meachen Creek drainage, approximately four kilometres southwest of St. Mary Lake and is classified as Out of Control.

Crews will work the northeast corner today, a priority area, with hose, working 20 feet into the perimeter to hold the line.

There were a few excursions in this area yesterday due to heightened fire behaviour. Extensive bucketing operations were conducted throughout the day to hold the perimeter.

Work continues in the Goat Creek area where a spot fire was discovered. The fire was active in the Fiddler Creek area as well.

Structural Protection Units protected 11 out of 12 primary structures in Zone 2 yesterday, which is east of St. Mary Lake and west of Lake Front Road.

Work will continue today on the last primary structure and the remaining secondary structures. Heavy equipment continues to work in the area east of the fire and south of St-Mary’s FSR as a contingency line if the fire were to encroach eastward. A new perimeter will be done in the coming days by means of a high-level scan.

Lost Dog Complex

The Lost Dog Complex is 706 hectares in size. There are 26 firefighting personnel on site, three helicopters, and seven pieces of heavy equipment.

This wildfire is located approximately 14 kilometres north of Kimberley and is classified as Out of Control.

The smaller N12420 and N12419 fires are in patrol stage. All other resources are assigned to N12413.

This fire is 90 per cent contained with machine guard with the remaining 10 per cent located in a bay in the southern portion of the perimeter.

Contract crews will continue to wet line today, 50 feet in up the east flank towards the north to tie in with the Unit Crew. The Unit Crew will work from the northwest down the west side 50 feet in towards the south.

A heavy helicopter with bucket will be used to suppress the line in the un-contained area. Hand ignitions were not necessary yesterday as the unburnt fuels on the east flank were consumed naturally.

Mount Dixon Fire

The Mount Dixon fire is 1391 hectares in size. It is being monitored and therefore no ground resources have been assigned, however there are three helicopters assigned to the complex. The fire is listed as out of control.

The Operations Chief surveyed this fire by helicopter yesterday. The fire has not been very active in recent days and many portions have burnt themselves out at the apexes. The fire is still approximately one and a half kilometers south of the Meachen Creek fire. However, with the forecasted increased fire behaviour there is a potential that these fires could merge.

Weather Forecast

The Incident Management Team reports that Wednesday’s conditions are warmer and dryer than yesterday.

The dominate flow will be from the southwest, however local winds will be determined by location. Expect down slope winds in the morning and upslope winds in the afternoon with generally light speeds of 5-10km/h into the early afternoon, but elevating into the high teens or low twenties upslope with the influence of daytime heating.

The southwesterly flow may increase smoke density. Cool in the morning around 10C warming to 30C, with daytime relative humidity into the low-teens and up to 45 to 55 per cent overnight. Smoke density will continue to have an impact on daytime temperature highs and low relative humidity values.

As for Thursday, more sun with temperatures in the mid-twenties and relative humidity values in the mid-teens.

An upper trough will bring some cloud cover and elevate wind speeds into the evening around 25km/h with gusts up to 50 km/h. Once again, the surface wind direction will be determined by local terrain however, as opposed to the daytime heating upslope winds of the previous days, drainage and slope orientations will channel and funnel the elevated wind speeds.

Smoke will continue to saturate the airmass, higher winds may clear some smoke however the continued southwesterly flow will likely simply usher in more. Some showers are possible overnight Thursday into Friday however light and scattered.

Fire Behaviour Prediction

Predicted fire intensity could exceed the capability of ground resources. On slope, in pine areas with the Larch component moderately fast rates of spread are expected. On slope, in typical lodgepole pine stands, fast head fire rates of spread exhibiting continuous crown behaviour and moderately fast flank rates of spread are expected.

The frontal system entering tomorrow will bring increased southwesterly wind speeds. If those winds start earlier in the day, increased fire behaviour will be observed, thus challenging our firefighting efforts. The Meachen Creek fire may push past its current perimeter towards the St. Mary Lake area.

An evacuation order has been issued by the Regional District of East Kootenay in the St. Mary Lake area from the west boundary of the City of Kimberley to the Redding Creek/St. Mary River convergence including St. Mary Lake Road and Lakefront Road.

An evacuation alert has been issued by the Regional District of East Kootenay for the entire City of Kimberley Municipal Boundary, and properties in the RDEK directly south and southeast of the City of Kimberley Municipal Boundary.

An evacuation alert has been issued by the Regional District of East Kootenay in the Ta Ta Creek area including west of the Kootenay River from 1.5 km south of Farstad Way Road to 2.5 km north of Woods Corner. For more information, please call the RDEK at 250 426-2188 or visit their website at: www.rdek.bc.ca

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