Smoky skies hindering aviation assistance in Michaud, Octopus Creek wildfires

Smoke rises from the Octopus Creek wildfire that's burning along the east side of Lower Arrow Lake. BC Wildfire Service

A trio of wildfires burning along Lower Arrow Lake in B.C.’s Interior have been grouped into one complex.

The Arrow Lake Complex includes the Michaud Creek, Octopus Creek and Renata Creek wildfires, and are now being overseen by one team instead of separately.

The Michaud Creek fire is listed at 4,600 hectares, while the nearby — but across the lake — Octopus Creek fire is estimated at 11,444 hectares. Slightly south, the Renata Creek fire is at 2,196 hectares.

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Read more: Evacuation order issued for B.C. communities of Edgewood, Needles due to nearby wildfire

Combined, there are two large evacuation orders affecting the communities of Edgewood, Needles and Fauquier.

A fire information officer said the fires were 100 per cent smoked in on Saturday, resulting in good and bad news.

“Fortunately, that means there’s a lot less wind,” said fire information officer Caroline Charbonneau.

“And the smoke actually covers the fire, which helps decrease fire behaviour because the sun can’t affect it by heating it up.”

The downside, though is no aerial assistance until the smoke clears.

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On Wednesday, the Regional District of Central Kootenay expanded its evacuation order in Electoral Area K for the Michaud Creek wildfire. The expansion included the communities of Edgewood and Needles, north to Whatshan Lake for a total of 356 properties.

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A list of the affected addresses can be found on the regional district’s website.

Meanwhile, an evacuation alert was issued on Wednesday for the Renata Creek wildfire, which is around eight kilometres west of Renata.

And on Tuesday, an evacuation order was issued for the community of Fauquier because of the Octopus Creek wildfire.

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Regarding how many firefighters are battling the fires, two firefighters are on scene for Michaud Creek and 21 firefighters for Octopus Creek. More resources have been requested, and it’s hoped they’ll arrive soon.

The terrain is described as rugged and hilly, with very little access.

According to BC Wildfire, the Michaud Creek fire has seen minimal growth since Tuesday and is around 13.5 kilometres from the south edge of Edgewood.

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The Octopus Creek wildfire is listed as being 11 km south of Fauquier.

On Friday, the Regional District of Central Kootenay held an online public information session. That video can be seen on the regional district’s website.

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