The White Rock Lake Wildfire near Westwold grew some more overnight Monday, Aug. 2, but also got some help from Mother Nature. (BC Wildfire Service photo)

UPDATE: Smoke hampers fight to control White Rock Lake wildfire

Blaze near Westwold grows by a few hundred hectares but rain helps with suppression efforts

UPDATE: 7:38 p.m.

The White Rock Lake fire remains at 32,312 hectares as of 7 p.m. Monday.

Crews were hampered by smoke on Monday, where firefighters were unable to see more than 150 feet in front of them.

The weather over the next few days is expected to be dry, which will increase fire behaviour. However, there is the possibility of a ‘convective-lift’ in the atmosphere which will mean clearer conditions for crews that will allow for more air support to bucked water on the blaze.

The incident management team for the White Rock Lake fire will be moving closer to Vernon to be closer to the blaze and the team should be in place within the next two days.

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ORIGINAL:

Mother Nature helped out the White Rock Lake Wildfire near Westwold Sunday, Aug. 1.

Structure protection personnel are remaining on site through the night to provide 24/7 structure protection continuity.

The northern areas on the fire – estimated Monday, Aug. 2, at 32, 312 hectares in size – received up to 10 millimetres of rain, which was enough to provide a reprieve from fire behaviour over the next couple of days.

The southern part of the fire received minimal precipitation.

Temperatures are expected to remain in the mid-20s, and winds of 10-to-20 km/h with gusts up to 30 km/h are expected Monday afternoon. Fire behaviour continues to be quite active in the south.

The fire remains classified as out of control.

“Crews are continuing to work towards safe, achievable operational objectives under extremely adverse conditions,” said the BC Wildfire Service on its Wildfires of Note page. “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.”

Evacuation orders and alerts issued by the Okanagan Indian Band, Regional District of North Okanagan, Columbia Shuswap Regional District, Central Okanagan Regional District and Thompson Nicola Regional District remain in effect.

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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.

Crews along the southern flank of the fire will be working along Beautiful Road to mop up the excursion south of the Salmon River Forest Service Road, east of Salmon Lake.

Eleven 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.

Structure Protection

The structure protection branch consists of 45 structure protection personnel from 10 different fire departments. Structure protection personnel are remaining on site through the night to provide 24/7 structure protection continuity.

Structural protection personnel continue to assess critical infrastructure and properties, from Monte Lake towards the Falkland Corridor via Highway 97. Structure protection personnel are preparing to deploy structure protection apparatuses in the community of Monte Lake and Pinaus Lake as required. Today, personnel will begin working along Westside road to evaluate resource and equipment requirements should it be required.

Applying tactical FireSmart principles around impacted communities continues. By removing available fuels from within home ignition zones and around facilities, fires are less likely to impact interface areas.

Structure protection units can be effective in reducing wildfire threats to some types of building, however, defending structures from a wildland fire will not be possible in every situation. An assessment of several factors (including risks to firefighters, fire behaviour, and the availability of resources) will dictate the strategies that will be used.

Structure protection units do not have their own water supply. Crews seek out lakes, ponds, creeks, swimming pools, etc. to provide the water necessary to operate the sprinklers. Mass water delivery systems will be set-up as required should pre-existing water sources not be available.

Area Restriction Order

The BC Wildfire Service has implemented an Area Restriction Order in the vicinity of the White Rock Lake wildfire. The size of the Area Restriction Order reflects the need to protect the public in areas where there are ongoing fire suppression activities. For more information, please review the White Rock Lake Area Restriction Order information bulletin and map.

READ MORE: UPDATE: Evacuation orders, alerts for Westside as White Rock Lake wildfire grows

READ MORE: City of Vernon sets up reception centre for White Rock Lake wildfire evacuees



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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B.C. Wildfires 2021