Air tankers, crews quell local wildfire

Due to favourable winds a potentially bad fire was extinguished after a four hour battle.

Eleven property owners in the Big Sheep Creek area near Rossland were on evacuations orders Saturday night after a forest fire spread from the valley up the mountainside.

With the help of two Kamloops air tankers and favourable wind conditions, Fire Chief Terry Martin said after a four-hour battle, no structures were damaged and no injuries were reported.

“It had potential to be quite bad but we were fortunate the wind was in our favour and with the assistance of the Ministry of Forest personnel, it worked out very well,” he added.

When crews from Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire Rescue arrived at the site just before 7 p.m., two homes in the direct path of fire were the main concern.

“We had a lot of apparatus and water so we were able to stop it from progressing toward the residence,” said Martin referring to the homeowners on Cascade Road who called in the fire just after 6 p.m.

“And stop if from progressing west or moving further in a north (not true north) direction.”

He said the ministry aircraft suppressed the fire before it could breach the ridge and advance down the opposite side where numerous recreational properties are situated near the creek.

The department set up an emergency operation centre in Trail to support the site with additional crew members on standby in Trail and Fruitvale if further intervention was warranted.

Safety of the firefighters was of particular concern as night fell, said Martin.

“It’s bad enough for everyone to go up there during the day,” he explained. “But when it starts to get dark, especially on such steep terrain, you have to pull the guys off. But everybody was good, no one was hurt.”

The incident was under control by 10:10 p.m.

Martin said an area of origin had been pinpointed near a Cascade Road property though the incident remains under investigation by the BC Wildfire Management Branch.

Unseasonably warm temperatures and minimal precipitation since April prompted the Southeast Fire Centre to issue a Category 2 and Category 3 fire prohibition Friday at noon.

Campfires are allowed, but open burning of waste and slash, the use of fireworks, sky lanterns, burning barrels and exploding targets (for rifle target practice) are prohibited.