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Large wildfires remain active near Cranbrook, Elk Valley

Fire crews continue to respond to the Connell Ridge wildfire south of Cranbrook, which is burning over an estimated 1,700 hectares.
Crews hiking off of the Cummings Creek fire line at the end of the day, August 12. Photo courtesy BC Wildfire Service.

Fire crews continue to respond to the Connell Ridge wildfire south of Cranbrook, which is burning over an estimated 1,700 hectares.

Firefighters are working on mop-up where the wildfire has reached containment guard, while direct attack is being done on the southwest corner where it is safe to do so, according to the latest update posted by the BC Wildfire Service on Wednesday morning (Aug. 17).

Planning and implementation of small-scale ignitions is ongoing and will be used as needed if weather and site conditions are favourable.

Crews and heavy equipment are working on building guard around a “slop over” — a fire that breached a previous containment line — that occurred on Sunday, Aug. 14 and added approximately 30 hectares to the fire size.

There are currently 74 firefighters, 13 helicopters and 19 pieces of heavy equipment assigned to fire response, while 17 additional operational personnel are also involved.

*NOTE: BC Wildfire Service video posted Monday, Aug. 15.

Southeast of Cranbrook, the Weasel Creek fire continues to straddle the international border between British Columbia and Montana.

Estimated at 985 hectares on the Canadian side, fire crews are moping up along guard where hand ignitions have occurred as well as removing unburned fuel between the fire and existing road networks.

Crews will take action against any spot fires, and are looking to secure the perimeter of the east flank of the fire, which opens up into the Flathead Valley.

There are 39 firefighters, 13 helicopters and four pieces of heavy equipment assigned to the response, while seven structure protection personnel and additional resources are also tasked.

Northwest of Sparwood, the Cummings Creek wildfire remains active at an estimated 53 hectares.

On Tuesday, crews completed a 50-foot wetline along the east flank, as well as a contingency line and hoeslay up the Will Weaver creek drainage. All portions of the fire with safe and workable terrain have been actioned by fire personnel.

There are 13 helicopters assigned to the fire.

All three fires – Connell Ridge, Weasel Creek and Cummings Creek — are being coordinated by an Incident Management Team based out of Elko. Area restrictions limiting public access are also in effect around each incident.

An evacuation alert for six properties south of Mount Baker near Cranbrook remains in effect.

Two new fires were also reported north of Skookumchuck in the Larsen Lake area. The BC Wildfire Service is responding, and aviation resources were also involved on Tuesday evening.

Trevor Crawley

About the Author: Trevor Crawley

Trevor Crawley has been a reporter with the Cranbrook Townsman and Black Press in various roles since 2011.
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