Fire crews tackle Cool Creek, Snowy Mountain fires from air as visibility clears

The Cool Creek fire continues to burn out of control west of Keremeos. Courtesy: BC Wildfire Service

As the smoke starts to lift near Keremeos, B.C., fire crews can once again tackle flames from the air.

“Over the last couple of days, it’s been difficult to get aviation up to assess the fire because of reduced visibility,” fire information officer Steve Kada said.

The out-of-control Cool Creek fire continues to burn approximately 20 kilometres northeast of Eastgate.

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“It’s still some distance away from any values at risk,” Kada said. “At this stage, it’s still burning away from assets. There are some isolated cabins in the area that we’ve assessed and have structural protection units assigned to.”

The lightning-caused blaze was detected on Wednesday, when it was approximately 100 hectares in size. It’s now estimated at 6,000 hectares.

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BC Wildfire Service said there was a limited initial response because the fire was burning in an isolated area with steep terrain that poses a safety risk for firefighters.

The fire later merged with two small fires.

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“Like everywhere else in B.C., we are all fed up with the smoke and fires around us, but we have to rely on wildfire services doing a good job. They have a plan,” Keremeos Mayor Manfred Bauer said.

“The Snowy Mountain fire could last to mid-September,” he added. “It depends on weather conditions, wind, heat, the other fires.”

Twenty firefighters, 14 pieces of heavy equipment and aviation resources are currently fighting the Cool Creek fire.

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Meanwhile, the Snowy Mountain fire, approximately 14 kilometres south of Keremeos, is still being held.

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“There was an increase in fire activity on Snowy Mountain last night because of winds,” Kada said, adding that the increased activity was highly visible from the town of Keremeos. “We have had crews in the area of concern over the last couple of days, but due to low visibility issues, we weren’t able to have aircraft to support them.”

Aircraft returned to the skies on Monday as visibility increased, Kada added.

Officials anticipate warm and dry weather in the future.

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