Lightning sparks area wildfires

After a blistering hot weekend in Greater Trail, a turn in weather conditions Sunday evening sparked three wildfires early Monday morning.

After a blistering hot weekend in Greater Trail,  a turn in weather conditions Sunday evening sparked three wildfires early Monday morning.

Starting what is expected to be a busy couple of days for the wildfire crews, was a trio of lightning-caused spot fires reported to the Southeast Fire Centre between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m.

Locally, a wildfire 10 kilometres north of downtown Rossland was called into the centre by a logging company that was accessing an adjacent fire service road.

The location is two kilometres north of Highway 3B near Murphy Creek, said Jordan Turner, the centre’s fire information officer, adding that the logging crew worked to contain the wildfire until a three-person initial attack team walked into the location via the highway and forestry road.

“They have been assisting us with this operation,” said Turner. “It’s hasn’t burned really hot yet, but with the dry weather it’s a possibility which is why we sent out crews immediately.”

The current weather system in the West Kootenay region, along with hot conditions over the last seven to 10 days, has dried forest fuels and increased the fire danger rating from low to high.

That means new fires may start easily, burn vigorously and challenge fire suppression efforts.

Turner asks anyone headed out to the woods to exercise extreme caution and make sure water and fire suppression tools are on hand.

“We’re expecting quite a few lightning strikes throughout (Monday),” said Turner.

“There may be some wildfires that are not on our radar yet.”

The centre has numerous crews on standby and planes will be flying over the more remote areas and scanning for signs of fire during fixed air patrols.

“They’ll be flying over trying to spot new fires so our crews can be ready if they need to fly into that location,” said Turner. “These aircraft are looking for fires before they have a chance to build up and become a major issue.”

Ground patrols and fire wardens are also making rounds on logging roads to keep on top of the situation, he added.

The other two lightning-caused wildfires are burning near Grand Forks but are accessible by road and no structures or the community is threatened, noted Turner.

Three-person initial attack crews were on site containing the wildfires with water and tools and working to establish a fire guard perimeter.

“They are there to make sure the fire is completely out,” he said. “Quite often these fires can lie dormant and re-ignite after a few days or hotter weather.”

The largest fire burning in the centre’s region is 16.8 hectares and burning north of Revelstoke near the shore of Kinbasket Lake.

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