The Interior News has learned the Bulkley unit of BC Wildfire Northwest Fire Centre (NFC) is being deployed to a 1,400-plus hectare fire currently raging in at Christie Mountain (near Penticton).
The 20-member Bulkley Valley unit, known as the Telkwa Rangers, is currently en route to the Kamloops Fire Centre, said Carolyn Bartos, the NFC fire information officer.
The fire was discovered on Aug. 18 north of Okanagan Falls on the east side of Skaha Lake in “difficult rocky sloped terrain with limited access points for ground crews and heavy equipment” according to the BC Wildfire Service.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Currently, there is an evacuation order in place for 300 homes in Penticton.
The NFC Firebirds unit, based out of Terrace, is also being deployed, but to the Southeast Fire Centre.
Bartos could not confirm which fire they will be battling, but there are numerous “out-of-control” fires in the Southeast including a 25o-hectare blaze near Doctor Creek in an uninhabited wilderness area of the Kootenay Ranges.
The only fire being listed as a “fire of note” by the Wildfire Service in the Southeast Fire Centre is a 17.5-hectare blaze at Soloman Mountain in the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (near the unincorporated settlement of Beaverdell), which was started by lightning.
An evacuation alert has been issued to 44 properties near that fire.
Unlike southern areas of the province that have been setting high-temperature records and experiencing drought-like conditions recently, the Northwest has been unusually cool and wet keeping wildfire risk low.
“Fortunately, which therefore allows us to send our resources out because in these sorts of situations, you’re looking to cover your home base before sending out,” Bartos said. “It feels good to be able to contribute when stuff like this is happening in the province.”
She added that the NFC may not be done yet and the Hazelton Rainmakers and the Burns Lake unit may still be called into service.
“It’s an evolving situation, so if there’s another request to send people we’ll be looking to round up more people and we’ll be looking to assist in any way we can in this,” Bartos said.
There is only one fire burning in the northwest, a six-hectare blaze near Morice Lake (approximately 70 km southwest of Houston) which is currently being held in check by the Burns Lake unit.