The Harrop Creek fire near Nelson. (Black Press file)

New fires sparked in West Kootenays

West Kootenay has not been immune as one of the worst fire seasons on record rages on across B.C.

As one of the worst fire seasons on record rages on across the province, the West Kootenays have not been immune to the wave of new fires popping up each day.

On Monday, Aug. 7, three small fires were started by lightning in the Ladybird Creek area, about 24 kilometers northwest of Castlegar. By Wednesday morning, all three of the fires were out.

Fast reporting and quick action by fire crews were credited with the positive outcome of the Ladybird fires.

“We were able to action them as soon as we caught wind of them,” said Carlee Kachman, information officer for the Southeast Fire Centre. “Actioning hard and fast and early detection is so important.”

This is an important reminder to call in any columns of smoke you see, as soon as you see it, and not just assume that someone else has called it in already. The number to call to report fires is *5555 on your cellphone or 1-800-663-5555.

Another fire that started Tuesday, Aug. 8 near McCormick Creek, south of the Salmo River about 30 km southeast of Trail was under investigation Wednesday as no lightning was detected in the area. As of Wednesday the fire was 1.5 hectares. Two helicopters and 17 wildfire personnel were on site.

“As visibility improves we are going to have air tankers and other aircraft supporting that fire as well,” said Kachman.

No communities or structures are threatened at this time, however crews are working diligently to try and save power poles that are located in the area.

The fire that has burned since July 27 located 10 km south of Harrop-Proctor has reached over 2,100 hectares, growing by 10 hectares overnight Tuesday. The fire was burning in steep and complex terrain and was not threatening any homes. The fire was also producing large amounts of smoke and was highly visible from the West Arm of Kootenay Lake on Wednesday.

Crews were working on building a guard with the aid of heavy equipment and helicopters. Three pieces of heavy equipment, six helicopters and 47 firefighters have been assigned to the fire.

“They are working really hard to try and contain movement to the north,” explained Kachman.

As of Wednesday morning, there were 45 active wildfires in the Southeast Fire Centre which extends from the U.S. border in the south to the Mica Dam in the north and from the Okanagan Highlands and Monashee Mountains in the west to the B.C./Alberta border in the east.

Since the fire season started April 1, there have been 231 fires that have burned 12,779 hectares. Lightning was to blame for 170 of those fires, with the remaining 61 person-caused.

This compares to a five-year average of 218 fires for the same time period, and 4,074 hectares burned, meaning that while actual fires are up only slightly, the total number of hectares of burned is up quite significantly.

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