The White Rock Lake wildfire is creating a spectacle as it blows a massive cloud of smoke into the Okanagan sky.
Forrest Tower, a fire information officer with the BC Wildfire Service, said Monday, Aug. 30, that area residents should expect to see the column of smoke rise from the 3,000 hectare planned ignition, though it’s likely to dissipate as the day wears on. Smoke will likely settle into the lower parts of the valley as night falls.
By mid-afternoon, BC Wildfire said the first section in the Irish Creek area burn was complete and the second section along Six Mile Creek was underway.
The ignitions will occur in three phases and are further broken down into three sections. First, a heli-torch machine is used to build heat and create a column within the burn area. This draws the main ignition up and into the column well within established control lines. Second, a Plastic Sphere Dispenser will be used to conduct the main ignition in each section to manage fire intensity and utilize terrain to draw fire into the column. Third, ground crews will ignite from control lines using drip torches to bring fire right to the guards in a controlled manner.
The aim of the sizeable burn, said Tower, is to get the fire under control in a way that mimics the way it would naturally progress this time of year if nature was to take its course. The difference is that natural processes could take four to five weeks.
After the initial burn, Tower said that there will be a two to three-day period of mop-up and then, in a week to 10 days, they will evaluate whether it’s time for local governments to change evacuation orders to alerts.
At this time, the evacuation Order for 1,316 properties and 850 properties on Alert in the North Westside communities within the RDCO remain in place.
To date 78 properties have been confirmed as having sustained significant damage. Those owners have been contacted. As assessment work continues it is likely that additional properties under evacuation order will have had some damage that could cause the home to be temporarily unsafe to live in until remediation work can be undertaken.
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