By Alexandra Heck
Free Press Staff
The smoke has cleared from the areas surrounding the three fires burning to the south and east of Elko, however, the BC Wildfire Service does not have the resources to send crews to the scene.
“It’s burning remotely and it’s not threatening any communities or structures,” said Karlie Shaughnessy, fire information officer with the BC Wildfire Service.
Shaughnessy stressed that currently, the fire is not threatening Elko and based on the wind patterns in the area, the fire is likely to be pushed east, away from the town.
She explained that with the number of fires burning in the province currently, they have to prioritize which fires are the most dangerous.
“Right now we’re just monitoring it closely.”
The Lodgepole fire is currently listed at 1,751 hectares, the fire burning near Soowa Mountain is 909 hectares, and the third fire, directly to the east of Elko is an estimated 27 hectares.
“It’s a number of factors,” said Shaughnessy, explaining that the first priority is with fires that directly threaten communities, rather than those threatening properties.
“We have other fires in the area that are burning closer to communities and structures,” she said.
More pressing fires in Lamb Creek and the fire near St. Mary’s River near Moyie Lake are closer to communities and are demanding greater attention.
“We’re looking to get resources soon,” said Shaughnessy, regarding the fires near Elko.
The BC Wildfire Service is currently briefing an international team of firefighters in Invermere, before deploying them on fires burning near White River, 47 km northeast of Canal Flats.
The International Incident Management Team team consists of 105 Mexican personnel, 40 Australians, one unit crew and eight initial attack crews as well as the BC Wildfire Service’s own Incident Management Team.
The team will then head out to a camp near the series of fires burning in the White River area.
For right now, the Wildfire Service expects to have manpower attend the fires near Elko as soon as they are able.
Once they arrive in the Elk Valley, they will be dealing with all three fires southeast of Elko. This crew could consist of members from the Incident Management Team, from crews around the province, as well as local crews.
Their firefighting strategy in the area is not yet determined.
Staff will continue to monitor the activity of these fires over the next few days.