Free Press Staff
ELKO—A lightning storm, coupled with this season’s arid weather has sparked four separate, remote blazes southeast of Fernie.
BC Wildfire service crews are attending a 200 hectare fire burning southeast of Elko in the MacDonald Range, near Lodgepole Creek and the Wigwam River.
“It was first discovered yesterday by industry,” said Karlie Shaughnessy, an information officer with the BC Wildfire Service. She says that someone working out in the bush reported the fire to authorities, who are attending the scene.
Lodgepole Service road is closed from the 35km mark to the 42km mark.
“It’s burning remotely, it’s not threatening any communities or structures,” said Shaughnessy, who added that the spread of the blaze is dependent on the topography of the area, as well as weather and wind direction.
She says that normally the wind will come from the north, northwest, south or southwest.
“Those fires will most likely be pushed in a north direction, and east direction or in a south direction,” she said, noting that, “predicting fire behavior in these types of conditions is very difficult considering the amount of fire activity we’ve been seeing over the last 24 hours.”
Amongst the swath of fires burning in the region is a second fire east of Elko, much smaller in size, which also is not threatening any structures at the moment. Two other newer fires have just been listed; one being a seven hectare blaze near Centre Mountain, the other being a two hectare fire further southeast of Elko in the Wigwan Valley.
“We have 58 active fires burning within the southeast fire centre,” said Shaughnessy. “The majority of them are lightning.”
Currently, there are over 20 wildfires burning in the entire Cranbrook area, which Shaughnessy says are mostly the result of a recent lighting storm.
Given recent temperatures and a lack of rainfall, the service has announced the closure of all crown land in the Rocky Mountain Forest District in order to limit the risk to public safety.
This closure, effective at noon on September 2, will affect the access of lands for hunting season, as well as trail access for the provincial parks.
For a list of all trails affected by this closure, visit Fernietrailsalliance.com/node/119
Access to water will also be closed off, and signage is currently being posted.
“It was just made now and not sooner because of the aggressive fire activity that these fires have been exhibiting over the past 24 hours,” said Shaughnessy. “They are extremely aggressive wildfires in extreme conditions.”