B.C. Wildfire used controlled ignitions to fight the Flat Lake Wildfire that created a large plume of smoke visible from Exeter Road last August. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

BC Wildfire crews battle 11 wildfires in Cariboo Fire zone

The 43-hectare Chasm Lake fire classified as being held

Cooler temperatures and rain are expected to help firefighters as they battle 11 active wildfires in the South Cariboo, including a 43-hectare blaze south of Chasm Lake Provincial Park.

The fires were all started by lightning.

Jessica Mack, fire information officer with the Cariboo Fire Centre, said crews remain at the site of the Chasm fire, along with a 3.6-ha fire seven kilometres southeast of 70 Mile House. Both fires are currently classified as “being held.”

Bucking machines and heavy equipment were being used Tuesday to remove woody debris and cut trails for a fire guard at the 70 Mile fire Tuesday, while firefighters set up a guard and 15-foot wet line at the Chasm.

“The main concern for both of these is continuing to wet down the fuels and putting water on the fires,” Mack said Wednesday. “We are expecting some widespread rain showers throughout the whole region. That will definitely cool down the fire behaviour.”

She said a helicopter has also been dispatched to a 2.5-hectare fire at Canoe Creek. A fire guard has been established at that fire, which is classified as out of control but has seen minimal fire behaviour.

Adam Nicholas, an information officer with the Cariboo Fire Service, said an initial attack was being sent to the site of a 15-hectare fire near Gang Ranch, which is out of control.

Helicopters were also delivering water Tuesday to a pair of spot fires east of Bobbs Lake and mopping up around a small fire at Highway 97 and Highway 24.

Other spot fires have been reported near Lillipad Lake and the Helena Spur Road, south of Lac La Hache.

Meanwhile, in the Kamloops Fire District, the Maria Creek fire is burning in a densely forested area, posing a challenge for fire crews because of the lack of road access to the area.

“Heavy equipment has been establishing access and building a guard around the eastern and southern portions of the fire,” said fire information officer Karley Desrosiers.

She added that heavy winds, high temperatures, low humidity, and a dense fuel source drove the fire’s growth on Aug. 1.

“The growth has been in the northeastern area and has now reached some cut blocks, so we’re not expecting substantial growth,” she said.

“It’s likely that smoke will continue to be visible from Ashcroft, Cache Creek, Clinton, and the surrounding area, but there is no threat to communities or the highway.”

Two unit crews of 20 people each and an initial attack crew are actioning the fire on the ground. Eleven helicopters are being shared between the Maria Creek and Nohomin Creek fires, and air tanker support is available.

The Cariboo Fire District has not issued a campfire ban at this time, he said, because there has been rain in the region.

A ban on campfires will come into effect in the Kamloops Fire Centre this Thursday, Aug. 4.

Nicholas urged residents to stay informed as conditions change at bcwildfire.ca or through the BC Wildfire Service app. Those who report fires using the app are asked to include photos to help firefighters assess the situation.