The White Rock Lake wildfire near Westwold, which has resulted in a handful of evacuation orders and alerts, is anticipated to grow in size over the next 24 hours after aggressive overnight growth Sunday, Aug. 1. (BC Wilfire Service aerial photo)

The White Rock Lake wildfire near Westwold, which has resulted in a handful of evacuation orders and alerts, is anticipated to grow in size over the next 24 hours after aggressive overnight growth Sunday, Aug. 1. (BC Wilfire Service aerial photo)

Growth anticipated for White Rock Lake wildfire near Westwold

Fire listed at approximately 24,000 hectares in size will get bigger in next 24 hours due to aggressive growth overnight

The estimated size of the White Rock Lake wildfire near Westwold will increase over the next 24 hours.

The BC Wildfire Service updated the fire shortly before 10 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 1, and said aggressive overnight fire growth was observed along the south flank where much of the fire perimeter crossed over the Salmon River Forest Service Road. Where feasible, heavy equipment has been working towards developing secondary containment lines south of this flank.

The fire is listed Sunday as being an estimated 24,000 hectares in size.

On the northwest and southwest flanks, crews will continue patrolling the completed machine guard and work on extinguishing any spots that may have crossed the guard. Crews are supporting these guards with hose lay and a water delivery system. Heavy equipment is also working to protect this guard, as well as ensure access is maintained to Monte-Pratt Road.

Northeast of the fire perimeter, crews and heavy equipment are continuing to work along a stretch of machine guard to contain fire that comes down the ridgeline and constructing a fuel-free handguard to tie together pre-established control lines along this flank.

To help secure the control lines, crews will be using low-intensity hand ignitions to remove any remaining combustible fuels between the control lines and the existing fire perimeter. This technique is frequently used to extend the amount of non-combustible fuels ahead of the main fire, helping to further secure the control line.

Ten helicopters are assigned to the White Rock Lake wildfire and will be delivering water to problematic areas of the fire to support ground suppression efforts. The helicopter fleet includes a Sikorsky 64 SkyCrane helicopter, which has a 2,650-gallon tank that is fillable in less than one-minute.

A ground-based retardant unit continues to reinforce control lines east of the fire perimeter. This unit is a large truck that can apply the same type of retardant used by airtankers to help slow the spread of the fire, allowing equipment and crews time and space to safely work along pre-constructed control lines. To ensure personnel safety, crews are being supported by danger tree assessors/fallers.

Conditions are also extremely smoky on-site, hampering the ability for aircraft to fly, and challenging suppression efforts.

The weather forecast for Sunday calls for showers with a chance of thunderstorms, bringing clouds and temperatures down to 20 degrees. Extreme burning conditions will remain until additional moisture and clouds come to the area. Dependent on precipitation amounts, there may be a slight reprieve in fire behaviour over the next 48-hours.

The BC Wildfire Service continues to work with industry partners to establish and reinforce control lines, and to protect critical infrastructure. Local industry knowledge is invaluable to operational success.

Saturday night, heavy equipment worked through the night to ensure operational continuity. Night shifts allow personnel to make progress in areas that would otherwise be inaccessible due to volatile fire behaviour during daylight hours.

Crews are continuing to work towards safe, achievable operational objectives under extremely adverse conditions. Public and first responder safety remains top priority. To protect the safety of the public and first responders, the BC wildfire Service will continue to evaluate the need for further evacuation order and alert recommendations.

All alerts and orders already issued remain in effect as of Aug. 1.

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roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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B.C. Wildfires 2021