The B.C. Wildfire Service provided this aerial shot of the planned ignition burn in the Irish Creek area off Westside Road on Aug. 30. (BCWS photo)

The B.C. Wildfire Service provided this aerial shot of the planned ignition burn in the Irish Creek area off Westside Road on Aug. 30. (BCWS photo)

UPDATE: White Rock Lake fire ‘held’ after 52 days

Vernon Camp housed more than 500 firefighters, support staff at its peak

UPDATE

The 83,342-hectare White Rock Lake wildfire is now classified as being held, according to the BC Wildfire Services.

“Over the last 52 days, firefighters and support personnel from around the world have maintained response efforts on the White Rock Lake wildfire,” the provincial agency said Sept. 2.

But “considerable work” remains before it’s completely suppressed.

BC Wildfire Services will continue to work on fire suppression until there is no risk to public health and infrastructure.

Already, alerts and orders have begun to be downgraded or cleared. And as disaster response moves into the recovery phase, local authorities have set up supports for evacuees returning home.

The agency offered its thanks to the helicopter pilots, heavy equipment operators, camp kitchen operators, facility managers, security and support staff.

They said at its peak, the Vernon Camp housed more than 500 people responding to the wildfire.

The North Westside Transfer Station will be open daily from 8 a.m. until noon starting Saturday, Sept. 4 until the end of the month. There will be no limit on the volume of household waste impacted households can dispose at this time. Visit www.rdco.com/recovery for return to home details including fridge, freezer and garbage disposal.

As a result of wildfire damage, a do not consume notice is in place for the Killiney water system. In addition, a Water Quality Advisory is in place until further notice for the Upper Fintry-Shalal Road-Valley of the Sun water systems.

Telus crews have fully restored wireless services in the area, which means all customers can use their cell phones to make voice calls, send text messages, and connect to the Internet.

Additional security is in place in fire impacted zones to support the return of residents to their neighbourhoods.’

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UPDATE

Some residents in the Irish Creek Road area are allowed to head home as the Okanagan Indian Band and Regional District of North Okanagan rescind its evacuation orders.

The affected area includes 20 properties on the west side of Irish Creek Road and Beatrice Road that are not within the Okanagan Indian Band IR#1

The OKIB has rescinded its order down to Goodwater Drive.

Re-entry info packages will be distributed for pick up down at the Newport beach store.

Those south of Goodwater Drive are still on an evacuation order.

ORIGINAL:

There was no growth on the White Rock Lake wildfire Wednesday, Sept. 1, and firefighters got some help from Mother Nature, who delivered five millimetres of rain which decreased fire behaviour significantly.

Crews continue to increase containment along all flanks of the fire, with hot spots identified by infrared drone scans being targets.

The size of the fire remains at more than 81,000 hectares in size, so a substantial workforce is required to ensure mop-up and patrol operations are thorough throughout the fire perimeter.

There are 120 Canadian Armed Forces personnel doing mop-up and patrol efforts along the north and west flanks. Objectives set out for each flank will remain fairly static going forward.

The planned ignition on Monday, Aug. 30, was 975 hectares in total size. The burn plan was to mimic natural wildfire with up to 30 per cent tree mortality and understory wood debris consumption.

In the Irish Creek area, there has been more than 40 years of woody debris build-up. Areas that had significant fuel build-up, combined with the steep-slope terrain, burned with more intensity, resulting in pockets of more intense fire behaviour that is seen when natural wildfire moves through a forest.

Out of the 975 hectares, 14 hectares of fire burned across containment lines in a 920 metre stretch along the guard when decked logs ignited by more intense fire behaviour. A unit crew managed this excursion with full containment achieved the next morning on Aug. 31.

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roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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B.C. Wildfires 2021