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Update: Ground crews working to identify hotspots and hazards at White Rock Lake fire

The evacuation order for 1,316 properties and alert for 815 properties remain unchanged
The BC Wildfire Service will try to conduct a 3,500-hectare-sized planned ignition above Westside Road from Irish Creek to the plateau; Six Mile Creek to the plateau; and the plateau to the fireguards on Monday, Aug. 30. (Sandra Detta-Eberle photo)

Update: 7:01 pm

Crews are still working to contain the White Rock Lake fire, which continues to burn actively at 81,362 hectares.

“Ground crews are working with BC Wildfire to identify hotspots and deal with hazards,” said regional emergency operations director Corie Griffiths. “I know many are anxious to return home and there is a coordinated effort underway to restore utilities, identify hazards and move towards making things safe for the public in order for some residents to return to their neighbourhoods.”

The evacuation order for 1,316 properties and alert for 815 properties remain unchanged at this time. To date, 78 properties have been confirmed to have sustained significant damage. Those owners have been contacted, said Central Okanagan Emergency Operations (CORD).

“As assessment work continues it is likely that additional properties under evacuation order will have had some damage that could cause the home to be temporarily unsafe to live in until remediation work can be undertaken,” said CORD in a recent update.

If conditions are good, expect it to get smoky in the North Okanagan again on Monday, Aug. 30.

The BC Wildfire Service will go ahead with a planned ignition if conditions are favourable to combat the White Rock Lake wildfire.

As shown in this video (above), planned ignition operations are critical to achieve containment in areas where the fire perimeter is inoperable and unsafe for ground crews and heavy equipment to work. Planned ignitions are the safest way to remove fuel that can be burned well into fall and winter by the wildfire. In 2018, fires that occurred in severe drought areas burned underground over winter and started burning in the spring again.

The ignitions will occur in three phases and be broken down into three sections.

First, a heli-torch machine is used to build heat and create a column within the burn area. This draws the main ignition up and into the column well within established control lines. Second, a Plastic Sphere Dispenser will be used to conduct the main ignition in each section to manage fire intensity and utilize terrain to draw fire into the column. Third, ground crews will ignite from control lines using drip torches to bring fire right to the guards in a controlled manner.

A large fuel-free guard has been constructed over the last two weeks by unit crews and heavy equipment that will act as the containment line for the ignition. Hose lays are completed along the guards that the ignitions will occur from.

The ignition will be broken down into three sections to control fire intensity and to allow for ground crews to tie off each section into built control lines.

Section 1: Irish Creek -> the plateau;

Section 2: Six Mile Creek -> the plateau;

Section 3: Plateau -> guards.

Given the extreme drought over the wildfire area, the approximately 3,500-hectare ignition in the Irish Creek Road area is critical to ensure that the fire perimeter is secure as possible before winter with no fuel available for further growth. Without these ignitions, the wildfire will continue to burn out of control into winter in heavy fuels with the potential to impact Highway 97 and the surrounding interface.

READ MORE: UPDATE: Huge planned ignition for White Rock Lake fire set for Monday

READ MORE: New Skaha Creek wildfire near Penticton may impact flights

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