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Winds whip up Kinbasket Lake wildfire

Smoke from fires elsewhere in B.C. obscure a forest fire on the shore of Kinbasket Lake near Golden on Tuesday, July 15. - BC Wildfire Management Branch
Smoke from fires elsewhere in B.C. obscure a forest fire on the shore of Kinbasket Lake near Golden on Tuesday, July 15.
— image credit: BC Wildfire Management Branch

Firefighters continue to battle a blaze on Kinbasket Lake after a thunderstorm Monday night caused the fire to increase in size.

The wildfire, located at Swan Creek on the west shore of Kinbasket Lake about 80 kilometres northeast of Golden, started on Thursday, July 10. A mix of government and contract crews quickly attacked the fire and by the end of the weekend they had it in the mop-up phase.

However, a Monday night thunderstorm that came in from the northeast brought with it 80–100 km/h winds, causing the fire to expand rapidly, said Brad Litke, a Revelstoke-based fire protection officer with the Wildfire Management Branch.

"The wind effect that came off that cell was enormous," said Litke Thursday morning. "We have crews that were overnighting there that had to tactically re-position."

The storm snapped trees and caused the fire to increase to 25 hectares in size. The fire went from being in the mop-up stage to being under expanded attack, with 38 firefighters on scene.

"We've got ministry, we've got fireline contractors and we've got industry crews — it's a collaborative approach," said Litke.

He said progress was great so far. "We're hoping by the end of today's operational period, we'll be in mop-up stage."

The Kinbasket fire is the biggest in southeastern B.C., but a thunderstorm in the north end of the zone started five new fires last night. Initial attack crews were dispatched to tackle the new fires.

Litke said that so far local crews have been able to handle all the activity, but with major fires roaring throughout the province, resources are being stretched to their limits.

"We have lightning forecasted this evening, so we're very concerned," he said.

Currently only small campfires are allowed in the Southeast Fire Zone, but a full ban is under consideration, said Litke.

The danger rating is mix of moderate and high throughout most of the southeast, with pockets of extreme near Revelstoke and elsewhere.

 

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