Mother Nature cools off Southeast Fire Centre; crews work to mop up Slocan Park wildfire
What a difference a week makes.
Last week at this time some residents in the Slocan Valley were on evacuation alert praying the Slocan Park wildfire would continue to burn in the opposite direction — away from their homes.
Sunday, Information Officer Jordan Turner said the Southeast Fire Centre has received a “substantial amount of rain” that has shifted the focus of crews from “high alert” to “mop up.”
“Especially in the West Kootenay we have received quite a substantial amount of rain that has seen the fire danger rating drop . . . to very low in the Nelson area,” Turner said Sunday.
“This is completely different picture for us from a week ago.”
Turner said the hotspot in the West Kootenay, the Slocan Park wildfire, is now 80 percent contained and really is not a concern for crews after a weekend of heavy rains.
“The fire is pretty much in control with crews in a mop-up stage, looking for hot spots in the fire and putting them out to make sure the fire doesn’t grow any more,” Turner explained.
As late as Thursday, there were more than a 100 firefighters on the ground battling the blaze with six helicopters in the air.
Sunday, the ground crew was reduced to 23 firefighters and one helicopter.
“The area of the Slocan Park fire has a open canopy with a thin duff layer that was really soaked by the rains,” Turner said. “That (rain) really brought the fire down.”
Despite the feeling summer is over now that the cooler temperatures have arrived, and a lot of the recent dangers have subsided, Turner said Southeast Fire officials remain vigilant the fire season is not over yet.
“It’s really too early to tell,” he said. “Right now we’re at mid-August so there still is the potential for the forests to become dried out but for the time being a lot of the fires we’re been working on have slowed down.”
The Environment Canada seven-day forecast for the region has rain dominating the weather pattern.
Turner said most of the Southeast Fire Centre crews have been dispatched to the East Kootenay were a few major hot spots around Canal Flats remain.
Friday, the Southeast Fire Centre removed the campfire ban in the district.
The Southeast Fire Centre covers the area extending from the U.S.A. border in the south to 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. It includes the Selkirk Natural Resource District and the Rocky Mountain Natural Resource District.
To report a wildfire, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone.
For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, go to: http://www.bcwildfire.ca