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Crews develop plan to draw fire away from Sparwood

Small-scale hand ignitions would control the spread and direction of the fire
Crews light small fires like the ones pictured here in order to control the direction and spread of the main fire (Sparwood Fire Department/Facebook)

An increase in humidity and slightly cooler temperatures has led to a reduction in fire behaviour in Sparwood this weekend.

The fire currently covers 751 hectares of land in the hills above Sparwood, although B.C Wildfire Service notes that growth in the last 24 hours has been minimal. Growth that did occur happened at high elevation away from the community.

On Saturday morning, B.C Wildfire Service classified the fire as rank one, which indicates a smouldering ground fire with a lot of smoke, but little to no open flame.

Crews began developing a blackline on Saturday, which refers to an area where any potential fuel sources for the fire are removed from the ground. This will prepare the landscape for a series of small-scale hand fires that crews will light to control the spread and direction of the fire. If weather permits, small fires will be lit on the eastern slope to direct the fire upwards and away from the community. B.C Wildfire Service notes that weather conditions are expected to be favourable for the burn. These fires will be highly visible in the community and will increase smoke.

According to the B.C. Wildfire Service website, on Saturday there were 29 wildfire crew members, 53 structure protection crew members and three helicopters responding to the fire. Eight new crew members joined the team on Saturday.

On Thursday, the District of Sparwood expanded its evacuation alert to all residents living north of Sparwood Heights Dr., including Whiskey Jack Dr., Savarie Rd. and Savarie Frontage Rd., Elk Valley Trailer Park, and Upper and Lower Lodgepole Trailer Park, and to all properties west of the highway up to 6161 Upper Elk Valley Rd.

Locals living in these areas must prepare to leave their properties should the alert change to an evacuation order.

Residents should have a bag packed and be ready to leave at a moment’s notice with essential items like a government-based ID, medications, money, clothing, personal care items, financial documents, valuables and keepsakes. Each household should have a designated meeting point outside the evacuation area and everyone living at the residence should be registered through the provincial Evacuee Registration and Assistance Tool at Pets and livestock should be moved to a safe area.

About the Author: Gillian Francis

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