ELKFORD—The BC Wildfire Service has 22 firefighters, two helicopters and five pieces of heavy equipment building a retardant line on the southern edge of the Quinn Creek fire, which is threatening the District of Elkford.
The Quinn Creek fire is currently estimated at approximately 7,513.5 hectares, up from 6, 576 hectares. The northeastern tip of the fire is currently burning approximately 15 kilometers southwest of the town of Elkford.
An evacuation notice was issued by the Regional District of East Kootenay on Sept. 12, calling for residents to prepare to vacate Elkford and rural homes north of Sparwood in the event that the fire progresses.
The Fording River operations, Greenhills and Line Creek are all within the boundaries of the evacuation order.
Heavy equipment and operators are digging a fire retardant guard in order to keep the fire from spreading closer to homes and the community.
The goal is to establish a control line, by both machine and manual clearing of flammable material, reducing a strip of land down to soil and stone.
“This is the first week we’ve been able to see them…and start looking at how big they’ve grown,” said Carlee Kachman, a fire information officer with the BC Wildfire Service, in regards to a number of fires burning in the East Kootenays.
“It’s approximately 30 kilometers west of Bull River,” said Kachman. “Winds moved it into the Bow Creek drainage.”
The fire is believed to have been started by lightning on August 10 in the Quinn Creek area.
A second, larger fire in the White River Complex is burning approximately 40 kilmetres northwest of Elkford. Over 105 firefighters are on the scene, battling the blaze that’s estimated to be aproximately 22,500 hectares. Crews have four helicopters and six pieces of heavy equiptment at the site as well, and expect more crews to arrive on scene soon.
“Due to the drought, lack of precipitation, hot temperatures; due to the geography of the area and the winds,” said Kachman, who also said the fire has the potential to grow closer to the District of Elkford.
“This is a precautionary evacuation alert,” said Loree Duczek, with the Regional District of East Kootenay, explaining that the notice is intended to advise residents within the boundary to prepare to leave at a moment’s notice.
School District #5 have closed Rocky Mountain Elementary school and Elkford Secondary as of September 13, until further notice.
The RDEK is advising residents to flesh out an evacuation plan, gather their immediate necessary items like medication, eyeglasses, insurance documents, and arrange for accommodation elsewhere in the event of an order.
Duczek says that the RDEK does have an emergency social services arm, which will be setting up a reception centre, but the details around that facility would be released in the evacuation order if it’s issued.
“It would depend on conditions, resources and availability,” said Duczek.
Fernie Mayor Mary Giuliano took to social media Wednesday morning, saying, “We have people ready to provide assistance to our northern neighbours if [needed].”
Elkford residents are advised to keep monitoring news sources for updates on the fire situation.
The District of Elkford is holding a information session at 7 p.m. tonight, September 13, at the Elkford Community Conference Centre in Teck Hall.