The Cummings Creek wildfire near Sparwood, pictured on August 12 2022. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

The Cummings Creek wildfire near Sparwood, pictured on August 12 2022. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

BC Wildfire Service redeploy crews away from Sparwood

The fire is still classed as out of control, but containment efforts have succeeded for now

The fire threat to Sparwood has eased enough for BC Wildfire Services to re-deploy some of their personnel around the province according to latest updates on the Cummings Creek wildfire.

The wildfire of note, which has been burning since August 3 and was started by a lightning strike, hasn’t grown much over the last week, staying steady at 52.6 hectares.

Sparwood Mayor David Wilks said that he and the district were very pleased with the progress made since the fire began.

“We’re very happy with the results,” he said. “Kudos to the BC Wildfire Service and all the other support services that were involved.”

Over 40 personnel from the BC Wildfire Service and fire departments from around the province were assigned to the Cummings Creek wildfire at the peak of the response, with a focus on contingency planning and establishing access routes towards the fire, which is 5km west of the community in steep terrain locally known as the Wilson Draw.

“I’d rather have lots of people here and nothing happens, than hardly anyone here and something happens,” said Wilks.

“In this case, BC Wildfire Service were extremely well prepared as was the Sparwood Fire Department. As a result of that we did have a lot of fire personnel around, however thankfully we didn’t have to use them.”

The BC Wildfire Service said in an August 17 update that containment objectives on the north and east flanks were now completed. On the northern flank is Cummings Creek, which crews were working to prevent the fire from crossing, while the eastern flank faces Sparwood.

“All portions of the fire perimeter with safe and workable terrain have been actioned,” reads the report.

“Crews also completed planning and layout of contingency lines outside of the fire perimeter in the event that fire growth occurs back down towards the valley bottom. This is not currently anticipated to occur.”

Wilks said that the BC Wildfire Service were confident that the fire was contained for now.

“Right now they seem quite happy with the response they were able to provide to the community over the last couple of weeks.

“They redeployed most of their personal to other fires, and the other fire departments that were here in support of Sparwood’s fire department have all gone home, so BC Wildfire Service are quite confident they’ve been able to achieve what they wanted to do.”

He added that the district had been told the fire was likely going to keep burning for “some time”, and that it was expected to burn itself out, or get snowed out.

The fire remains classed as ‘Out of Control’ due to the steep and inoperable terrain it is burning in, with crews unable to safely get close enough to fight the fire.

READ MORE: Large wildfires remain active near Cranbrook, Elk Valley



scott.tibballs@thefreepress.ca
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