Christie Mountain wildfire: Rough terrain calls for aerial attack

Click to play video: 'B.C.’s Christie Mountain wildfire grows as winds pick up' B.C.’s Christie Mountain wildfire grows as winds pick up
WATCH: Dozens of wildfires are raging across British Columbia, with the Christie Mountain wildfire growing to 2,000 hectares. Aaron McArthur reports from Kaledon, and explains what could hamper firefighting efforts – Aug 20, 2020

The Christie Mountain wildfire has been extremely difficult for the B.C. Wildfire Service and local fire departments to bring under control.

“Where the fire started it was in a bit of a gully,” said Nicole Bonnett, a B.C. Wildfire Service information officer.

“It was the perfect mixture of topography and weather coming into play, which caused the fire to take off quite quickly and wick its way up the gully.”

Read more: Christie Mountain wildfire: B.C. blaze estimated at 2,000 hectares; windy forecast a growing concern

The B.C. Wildfire Service has mainly been combating the fire from the air, due to the rough terrain.

“It’s burning in some nasty terrain; it’s pretty rocky and steep,” said Bonnett.

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“I know the area is well-known for rock climbing, just to give everyone an idea of how steep it is out there.”

Nine helicopters and a handful of air tankers are flying in and out of Penticton Regional Airport where they are refuelling and replenishing retardant.

“Additional helicopters will be available if needed,” said Bonnett.

“With the air tanker base in Penticton being as close as it is to the incident itself, the aircraft will be available as we need them.”

Read more: Smoky skies bulletin issued for South Okanagan, Boundary regions

Officials are asking everyone to stay off Skaha Lake to keep the area safe for water pickups.

“If they can, stay off the lake,” said Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki.

“Under any circumstances, stay off the lake. As the choppers come down and the bombers, they need all the space they can have.”

The Christie Mountain wildfire is now an estimated 2,000 hectares and could grow Thursday night, depending on weather patterns and especially the strong winds that are forecasted to come in from the south.

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Click to play video: 'Evacuation orders, alerts continue in effect for Christie Mountain wildfire' Evacuation orders, alerts continue in effect for Christie Mountain wildfire
Evacuation orders, alerts continue in effect for Christie Mountain wildfire – Aug 20, 2020

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