More than 130 firefighters continue to battle the Wood Lake Wildfire on the east side of Harrison Lake. Fire information officer Jordan Turner said as of Aug. 11, the fire was estimated to be 13.7 km², roughly two and a half times the size of the Village of Harrison Hot Springs.
The Wood Lake Wildfire has proven to be one of the “most challenging” fires in B.C. this summer, says Turner.
“It does have the most resources on it. It’s a challenge. But every day, we’re getting a little closer to containing it.”
The fire was 60 per cent contained as of Tuesday, while a report Monday put it at 40 per cent containment.
“We don’t put containment numbers out to the public until we’re confident it will be unlikely that containment will be breached by the fire,” says Turner. “We have been making progress over the last week.”
Crews have contained the southern flank and are now working on the west and north flanks.
“Our biggest challenge right now is the north flank of the fire because of steep slopes and inhospitable terrain,” reports Turner.
A rappel crew is accessing the steeper slopes via helicopter.
The Wildfire Service expects fire activity and smoke levels may increase over the next few days due to rising temperatures and decreasing relative humidity throughout the region.
Fire crews include a group of 24 firefighters from South Africa. There was also a small crew from Australia but they have since left. There are five helicopters and four heavy pieces of equipment at work.
The Wood Lake wildfire began Aug. 2 and rapidly grew due to wind and dry conditions. No homes or structures are at risk and the fire has been spreading northward away from Harrison Hot Springs. The wildfire was human-caused and is under investigation.
“Human caused could be a lot of things: campfire, broken bottle, ATV in dry grass,” explains Turner. “That investigation will take time.”
All human-caused wildfires are preventable and unnecessarily divert firefighting resources from naturally occurring fires, states the BC Wildfire Service.
The area surrounding the fire has been restricted for safety reasons. In spite of road closures, BC Wildfire Service reports having to escort several groups of people out of the restricted area over the past week.
“When members of the public enter an area where a wildfire is burning or where fire suppression operations are in progress, they can put themselves, wildfire crews and others at risk,” states the report. “When someone enters a restricted area without authorization, they can delay firefighting activities. This could contribute to the growth of the fire and possibly put more values and people at risk.”
They ask that people not enter the restricted area.
“There is security in place at the 0 km mark on the Sts’ailes Forest service road, and security at the 33 km marker just past 20 Mile Bay stopping people coming from Pemberton way,” reports Turner.
West Harrison sites that are closed include Francis Lake, Grace Lake, Hale Creek, Lookout Lake, Sunrise Lake, Twenty Mile Bay, Wolfe Lake and Wood Lake.
To report a wildfire or open burning violation, call 1-800-663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone.