Shovel Lake, one of B.C.’s most threatening wildfires, now being held
Firefighters say they’ve halted one of British Columbia’s largest and most threatening wildfires in its tracks.
The massive 92,000-hectare Shovel Lake wildfire is now classified as “being held” according to the B.C. Wildfire Service.
“(This) basically means that with the resources that are currently assigned to the fire and with the suppression action that’s been taken, this fire isn’t likely to spread beyond existing or predetermined boundaries, given the current and forecast conditions,” said fire information officer Ryan Turcot on Sunday.
The fire, which has been burning since July 27, got scattered showers overnight, and Turcot said the forecast is favourable for Sunday, too.
WATCH: BC Wildfires: Anxious residents watch Shovel Lake Fire grow
Highs are expected in the mid- to upper teens, and there’s plenty of moisture in the air, with a humidity index of nearly 40 per cent.
The fire was hit with winds of up to 60 kilometres per hour on Friday, but flames never escaped a containment boundary built by the B.C. Wildfire Service.
The Shovel Lake fire was at one point B.C.’s largest. It is burning just six kilometres north of the community of Fraser Lake and about 40 kilometres southwest of Fort St. James.
On Sunday, the District of Fort St. James rescinded a three-week-old evacuation alert for residents of 872 properties.
Evacuation orders and alerts issued by the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako remain in effect, though these have been partially downgraded.
“For folks living in that area, certainly it has been a stressful time given all the fire activity that’s been occurring in that region, certainly a bit of good news,” said Turcot.
“That being said, there is still lots of progress yet to be made on this fire, despite it being held,” he added.
“Smoke will remain visible as crews continue to conduct mop-up on this fire, patrolling, looking for any other hot spots, assessing danger trees in the area and to secure perimeters from any internal fire activity that may remain a risk.”
WATCH: Night and day images of the Shovel Lake fire as it passes through one B.C. community
Smoke from the fire was so thick at some points that, in some areas nearby, the skies were pitch-black at midday.
It also caused major problems for fire crews, grounding aircraft due to poor visibility for several days in late August.
Structure protection crews, including firefighters from municipal departments like the Vancouver Fire and Rescue Service, have been working around the clock in the area to protect homes.
Parks Canada also deployed a team to protect the Fort St. James National Historic Site, Canada’s largest collection of restored wooden buildings.
An area restriction for public safety will remain in place for the wildfire near Shovel Lake until at least noon on Sept. 15.
Around B.C., 496 wildfires remained active on Sunday, having burned more than 1.32 million hectares since the beginning of the season.
—With files from the Canadian Press
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