UPDATE: Snowy Mountain wildfire now being 'held' at 13,359 hectares

NowMedia Staff | August 15, 2018 in Wildfire

Local Community Advertising

(UPDATE: Aug. 15, 2018 @ 3:45 p.m.) - The Snowy Mountain wildfire is now being classified as “held” at 13,359 hectares by the BC Wildfire Service.

This is good news, as it means that “sufficient suppression action has been taken” and the fire “is not likely to spread beyond existing or predetermined boundaries under the prevailing and forecasted conditions.”

Crews will continue to work on the fire patrolling and mopping up. Fire equipment is being demobilized in areas where it is no longer required.

(UPDATE: Aug. 14 @ 1:55 p.m.) - The Snowy Mountain wildfire remains at 13,359 hectares for the third straight day.

Despite it's seemingly stagnant state, the fire remains listed as out of control by BC Wildfire. 

Today, crews are demobbing all equipment from the west side of the fire and the Snehumption drainage area, as well as setting up and testing the water delivery system in the Barrington Creek area.

There are only 33 firefighters and two helicopters working on this blaze right now. 

(UPDATE: Aug. 13 @ 8 p.m.) - Snowy Mountain is still burning approximately 13,359 hectares of land and remains out of control. 

The wildfire is still on the west of Chopaka Road and continues to burn within the managed area set by the fire analysis

Snowy Mountain wildfire's south flank sits at only three kilometres from the U.S. border, continuing the discourse between the BCWS Incident Management and United States operations such as the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.

BCWS was anticipating "vigorous surface fire" throughout Monday but is was not expected to challenge suppression efforts.

The smoke trapped in the valley did pose visibility challenges in the area, reports BCWS. 

According to BCWS, crews were able to start construction of a helipad on the north flank of the fire and were successful in building a hose lay and a wet line from Barrington Creek to the new helipad location.

There were 59 firefighters actioning the fire with a remote camera continuing to provide real-time photos of the fire to assist in visual assessment.

(UPDATE: Aug. 12 @ 1:20 p.m.) - The Snowy Mountain wildfire is still estimated at 13,359 hectares in size as of this morning.

Today there are 97 firefighters assigned to the fire, and they are assisted by 10 helicopters assigned to both the Placer Mountain fire and the Snowy Mountain fire.

The fire is expected to see the same cooler temperatures that many of the other fires in the zone have. The BC Wildfire Service report notes a possibility of unstable conditions returning.

Crews on the fire today will continue to move further west into the Snehumption drainage, continuing with mop up and joining another crew doing mop up along that edge.

Crews on the north edge of the fire will continue to work along the line to ensure a fuel free zone and to establish a water delivery system anchoring into the scree slope. They will run dozer line to the guard hose trail, tying everything in with hose and sprinkler lines.

(UPDATE: Aug. 11 @ 11:10 p.m.) -  The steep terrain continues to be an obstacle for firefighting efforts at the Snowy Mountain wildfire, rendering some areas inoperable and posing a safety risk to firefighting personnel.

Crews are being strategically placed to enable the safe execution of suppression objectives.

The fire remains to the west of Chopaka Road and crews continue to patrol the stretch of road and mop-up hot spots.

Personnel will also continue mop-up work on the south flank of the fire.

Snowy Mountain wildfire remains out of control at 13,359 hectares with 107 firefighters actioning the blaze. 

(UPDATE: Aug. 11 @ 1 p.m.) - The Snowy Mountain wildfire is estimated at 13,359.0 hectares this morning.

According to the BC Wildfire Service, scattered showers were expected to linger in the morning. Potential total rainfall was expected to be in the 2 to 5 mm range on Snowy Mountain and 4 to 8 mm on Placer Mountain.

Potential for isolated showers will decrease in the afternoon.

There are 107 firefighters at the scene today, assisted by 10 helicopters which are assigned to both the Placer Mountain and Snowy Mountain fires.

Crews are working on containment on the southeast and north corners of the fire by continuing the containment line westward into a talus slope. They will also be monitoring burn operations from yesterday and patrolling for hot spots.

(UPDATE: August 10 @ 6:50 p.m.) - The Snowy Mountain wildfire is now estimated at 12,961 hectares in size. 

The BC Wildfire Service did conduct a planned ignition on the fire this afternoon. It will be visible from the communities of Keremeos and Cawston, as well as to anyone travelling along Highway 3.

The fire is still classified as out of control. Crews continue to mop-up and patrol along Chopaka Road. The fire remains to the west of Chopaka Road. 

Tonight a BC Wildfire Service crew will be monitoring the north flank of the fire in the event a response is needed given the forecasted weather. 

The Area Restriction for Crown land in the vicinity of Placer Lake has now been rescinded. 

(UPDATE: August 10 @ 1:25 p.m.) - The Snowy Mountain wildfire is still estimated at 12,219 hectares today, according to BC Wildfire Service. 

Crews are planning on doing a small scale planned ignition on the fire this afternoon to "tie the fire perimeter in to a natural control line." 

They say it will be ignited along the upper slope of the northeast flank of the fire, and may be visible from Keremeos, Cawston, and Highway 3. 

Crews continue to work to secure the north flank and tie it into rocky slopes in order to keep the fire from wrapping around towards Keremeos. The fire has crossed over the perimeter over the upper slope west of the Barrington drainage. This is visible from Keremeos. Helicopters are bucketing this activity, and ground crews are on site. 

This fire is still classified as out of control. There are 105 firefighters at the scene today along with three pieces of heavy equipment and helicopters. 

(UPDATE: August 9 @ 1:20 p.m.) - This afternoon, the Snowy Mountain wildfire is mapped at 12,219 hectares in size. The fire is still 40% contained, and crews are working to secure the north flank and tie it into rocky slopes in order to keep the fire from wrapping around towards Keremeos.

Other crews continue their work on the east flank to mop-up and patrol along Chopaka Road. The fire remains to the west of Chopaka Road.

The BC Wildfire Service Incident Management Team assigned to the Snowy Mountain Fire is working collaboratively with the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources given the fire's proximity to the border.

(UPDATE: August 8 @ 10:10 p.m.) - The Snowy Mountain wildfire has not grown in size and is measured at 12,039 hectares.

The fire is currently 40% contained with structural protection specialists continuing to assess properties on the valley bottom.

Fire equipment is being demobilized in select areas where it is no longer required. 

(UPDATE: August 7 @ 2:30 p.m.) - On Tuesday afternoon, wildfire crews began a planned burn-off on the southeast perimeter of the Snowy Mountain wildfire. 

The burn-off is being conducted with the purpose of increasing containment by removing upslope fuels to halt the fire's further progression to the south. 

BCWS reports that several outbuildings and pieces of equipment were lost, but no primary homes have been affected. 

The burn operation and smoke will be visible from the surrounding area. 

On Monday, BC Wildfire Services increased the size of the wildfire to 12,039 hectares due to improved mapping and as a result of the smoke dissipating.

Crews continue to battle steep terrain along with hot and dry conditions.

Photo Credit: BC Wildfire Service.

(UPDATE: August 6 @ 7:05 p.m.) - Due to improved mapping, the Snowy Mountain fire is now being recorded at 12,039 hectares. 

BCWS attributes the size growth to improved mapping visibility as a result of the smoke dissipating.

However, BCWS was expecting an increase in fire behaviour over the day due to the hot and dry conditions. The topography is causing problems for firefighters on the scene as the steep terrain proves inoperable in some areas and poses a safety risk to crews. The presence of rattlesnakes in the area is also making fire suppression in the area more challenging. 

To fight in the uncomfortable situations, crews are being strategically placed in areas that enable safe completion of suppression objectives. 

Crews were also focusing on mop-up in key areas throughout the day with hose lay in the northeast corner of the fire and the creation of a fuel-free guard on the northeast corner.

BCWS enlisted 91 firefighters to action the fire on Monday accompanied by seven units of heavy equipment. There will be 20 firefighters working throughout the night on the fire to ensure a 24-hour presence on the mountain.

(UPDATE: August 5 @ 8:30 p.m.) - BCWS is still reporting the Snowy Mountain wildfire to be 10,911 hectares in size with 0% containment.

Evacuation Alerts remain in effect for the wildfire with a few Evacuation Orders also being issued.

BCWS also conducted actions as described below throughout Sunday. 

(UPDATE: August 5 @ 8:45 a.m.) - The Snowy Mountain wildfire saw some cooler temperatures and a little bit of precipitation yesterday.

“The precipitation raised the minimum relative humidity yesterday, and calmer overnight winds in conjunction with work by BC Wildfire Service night crews alongside the Keremeos Fire Department resulted in no additional fire growth last night,” reports BC Wildfire Service.

The fire remains to the west of Chopaka Road, but is burning in a southward direction and the south flank and is approximately 3 km from the U.S. border.

The BC Wildfire Service Incident Management Team assigned to the Snowy Mountain Fire is working collaboratively with the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources given the fire's proximity to the border and expectation that the fire will continue to move south if prevailing strong winds come from the north.

BC Wildfire Service night crews responded in conjunction with the Keremeos Fire Department to prioritize life and safety within the evacuation order area. Additional resources were deployed to assist, including initial attack crews and officers out of Penticton and BC Wildfire Service Incident Management Team staff. Several outbuildings and pieces of equipment were lost, but no primary homes were affected.

Crews are positioned in rotations for 24 hour coverage, working on the south flank to protect communities around where evacuation orders have been implemented. Control lines are being constructed with heavy equipment.

Crews are supported by bucketing helicopters as they work to conduct burn-offs as safe conditions allow to remove fuel from the slopes adjacent to properties in order to halt the forward progression of the fire. Structural protection specialists will continue to assess properties on the valley bottom, moving south along the Chopaka Road down to the U.S. border.

(UPDATE: August 4 @ 7:20 a.m.) - Last night, Snowy Mountain saw aggressive fire behaviour due to strong north winds.

The fire is now estimated to be 10,911 hectares.

BC Wildfire Service night crews responded with the Keremeos Fire Department to prioritize life and safety within the evacuation order area. Additional resources were deployed to assist, including initial attack crews and officers out of Penticton.

During the early morning, two new fires were reported within the Lower Similkameen Indian Band jurisdiction.

According to BC Wildfire Service, these new fires were not spot fires and resulted from high winds.

BC Wildfire Service crews were reassigned to the Snowy Mountain fire to respond.

As a result of these two new fires, Highway 3 has been closed in both directions 10 km east of Keremeos as of 6:30 a.m.

Today, there will be 60 firefighter’s, three helicopters and four pieces of heavy equipment on scene.

Crews are supported by bucketing helicopters as they work south to conduct burn-offs as safe conditions allow to remove fuel from the slopes adjacent to properties in order to halt the forward progression of the fire

(UPDATE: August 3 @ 8:45 p.m.) - A new size estimate has been given for the Snowy Mountain wildfire. 

The fire is now estimated at 10, 911 hectares as of 7 p.m. The BC Wildfire Service says that the size could change as smoke dissipates and better mapping can be done. 

Crews are supported by bucketing helicopters as they work south to conduct burn-offs as safe conditions allow to remove fuel from the slopes adjacent to properties in order to halt the forward progression of the fire. Structural protection specialists will continue to assess properties on the valley bottom, moving south along the Chopaka Road. 

(UPDATE: August 3 @ 5:30 p.m.) - The Snowy Mountain wildfire has seen some serious growth.

The fire is estimated at 10,300 hecatres in size. BC Wildfire Service says that estimate could change once more accurate mapping can be done when smoke dissipates.

“Winds last night were unpredicted and sustained at 30-50 km/hr, causing growth on the north and south flanks along the Similkameen River,” the BC Wildfire Service said this afternoon.

The spot fire that occurred due to very strong winds on the east side of the Similkameen River on the riverbank late last night in the Beecroft Road area had 25 BCWS firefighters and the Keremeos Fire Department respond with heavy equipment. The spot fire does not pose a risk to structures or communities.

Smoke is drifting from the incident to adjacent areas, and the smoke column and open flame is visible from the surrounding communities.

There are 60 firefighters, three helicopters, and four pieces of heavy equipment at the scene.

(UPDATE: August 3 @ 1:25 p.m.) - Cooler temperatures are expected today as crews continue their response to the Snowy Mountain wildfire. A chance of showers may also be in the cards, according to BC Wildfire Service (BCWS).

Crews have been dealing with strong winds at the fire scene, and they report that a spot fire started last night as a result. The spot fire occurred on the east side of the Similkameen River on the riverbank in the Beecroft Road area. They responded with 25 BCWS firefighters, along with the Keremeos Fire Department with heavy equipment. The spot fire does not pose a risk to structures or communities.

A precautionary evacuation order was issued yesterday morning for five properties in the Lower Similkameen Indian Band due to the increased fire behaviour. Evacuation alerts are also in place for areas around Keremeos and Cawston, and ranchers have been asked to relocate cattle in the area.  

Structural protection specialists will continue to assess properties on the valley bottom, moving south along the Chopaka Road. Ground crews will continue with yesterday's successful burn-offs on the fire's southeast flank as safe conditions allow in order to stop the fire's advance and protect adjacent communities. Crews will be assisted by bucketing helicopters during daylight hours.

Photo Credit: BC Wildfire Service
Burn off operation of the east flank of the fire.

This afternoon, winds are anticipated to from the west/southwest of 15 to 25 km/hr, with gusts of up to 35 km/hr.

Smoke is drifting from the incident to adjacent areas, and the smoke column and open flame is visible from the surrounding communities. The fire was estimated at the same size of 6, 594 hectares this morning.

(UPDATE: August 2 @ 6:33 p.m.) - Effective at noon today, the BC Wildfire Service implemented an area restriction order for Crown land in the vicinity of the Snowy Mountain wildfire to protect the public, ensure the safety of firefighting personnel and deter interference with wildfire control activities.

This area restriction order will remain in place until Sept. 15, 2018, or until it is rescinded. The order applies to Crown land within the geographic boundaries shown on the map posted online at: http://ow.ly/8KI230lfb3e

Under this order and Section 11(2) of the Wildfire Act, a person must not remain in or enter this restricted area without the prior written authorization of an official designated for the purposes of the Wildfire Act, unless the person enters the area only in the course of:

The Snowy Mountain wildfire is still estimated at 6,594.0 hectares today. 

Photo Credit: BC Wildfire Service
Photo taken of Snowy Mountain wildfire at 06:15 a.m., east flank south of Cawston.

BC Wildfire Service crews worked overnight on the east flank of the fire above Keremeos and Cawston, where they saw continued fire activity in steep terrain and coming down in the creek draws.

In some areas, rank 3-4 fire behaviour was reported overnight and continued into the morning with unexpected and very strong winds. This fire activity is very visible to residents of Cawston, Keremeos, and the Lower Similkameen Indian Band. The overnight growth occurred downslope on the east flank on the Highway 3 - Cawston side, approximately 400 - 800 metres downslope. 

The crews that worked overnight are being joined by additional firefighters who will remain on site throughout the day, supported by helicopters and heavy equipment. Airtankers will be assisting ground crews to reinforce containment lines that are being built with dozers up through the creek draw and to the scree slope. Visibility is low due to smoke in the area, so airtankers will action this objective only if safe to do so. 

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen issued an expanded precautionary Evacuation Alert yesterday for the Cawston area to include Crown Land and the Snowy Mountain Protected Area. The expanded area does not include any additional homes or private property but seeks to prepare ranchers to preemptively relocate cattle to safe areas due to potential fire growth compromising cattle egress routes.

(UPDATE: August 1 @ 7:32 p.m) - The Snowy Mountain wildfire has seen some more growth today.

The fire jumped from 3,050-hectares to 6,155-hectares between yesterday and today after starting the week at less than 2,000-hectares.

This evening the fire is estimated at 6,594 hectares.  

Ranchers are being advised by the RDOS EOC to start removing their cattle from the western side of the Similkameen Valley due to the wildfire activity. An evacuation alert has been expanded to Crown Land west of Cawston to the border.

Properties under Evacuation Alert also include addresses 963, 1002, 1009, 1090, 1095, 1117, 1125, 1131 and 1143 on Highway 3 as well as 101 Chopaka Rd.

(UPDATE: Aug. 1 @ 12:05 p.m.) - The Snowy Mountain wildfire continues to grow at an incredible rate.

The fire jumped from 3,050-hectares to 6,155-hectares between Tuesday and Wednesday after starting the week at less than 2,000-hectares.

There are 19 firefighters, four pieces of heavy equipment and three helicopters currently battling the blaze.

Photo Credit: Holly Goebel on Facebook

"Fire behaviour was extremely active on July 31, and was burning rank five in some areas," explains BC Wildfire. "The fire behaviour was wind driven, with sustained 30 km/hr and gusts up to 50 km/hr coming out of the south."

"Significant growth occurred on the east and north sides of the fire."

A number of evacuation alerts are in place due to this fire, including 481 new properties since Tuesday.

"This precautionary evacuation alert includes all homes south and west of Hwy 3 from 1143 Hwy 3, south of Cawston, to the Fas Gas Plus service station at 3163 Hwy 3, west of Keremeos," reads a release from the RDOS website.

"This includes selected homes within electoral area B, electoral area G and the village of Keremeos closest to the Snowy Mountain wildfire."

For more information on these alerts and what to do when an evacuation alert is in place, click this link.

(UPDATE: July 31 @ 7 p.m.) - BC Wildfire Service has not recorded any growth of the Snowy Mountain wildfire over Tuesday, as it remains at 3,050 hectares, but a precautionary Evacuation Alert has been implemented for nearby residences.

Photo Credit: BCWS

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen Emergency Operations Centre (RDOS EOC) is emphasizing that no properties are under an evacuation order, but there is a precautionary Evacuation Alert for 481 additional properties including the previously alerted Cathedral Park Lodge. 

All homes south and west of Hwy 3 from 1143 Hwy 3 (south of Cawston), to the Fas Gas Plus Service Station at 3163 on Highway 3 (west of Keremos) are affected by the Evacuation Alert. This includes the Village of Keremos.

The Lower Similkameen Indian Band is also issuing Evacuation Alerts for their band members and residents in the area.

RDOS EOC is warning residents that burning embers have the potential to float several kilometres and spark new fires near the bottom of the valley and they should be prepared to leave at a moments notice. For information on how to prepare for an Evacuation Order, click here.

In battling the fire, Crews will be constructing a handguard north of Susap Creek which will merge with an existing guard south of the creek. A machine guard is also being established to the east of the handguard. 

The fire remains 0% contained. 

(UPDATE: July 31 @ 2:10 p.m.) - The Snowy Mountain wildfire has seen some serious growth.

The fire, previously measured at 1,910 hectares in size, is now estimated at more than 3,000 hectares.

This latest size estimated comes from the BC Wildfire Service as of noon on Tuesday.

"No planned ignitions were conducted by BC Wildfire Service on this fire yesterday. Fire behaviour was extremely active yesterday and was burning rank five or six in some areas," reads the latest update from BC Wildfire.

"The fire grew approximately 1000 hectares burning up a valley to the northwest away from the community of Cawston."

There are evacuation alerts in place for this fire, which you can see by visiting the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen website.

BC Wildfire has 43 firefighters, three pieces of heavy equipment and three helicopters battling this blaze.

(UPDATE: July 30 @ 9:20 p.m.) - The Snowy Mountain wildfire is displaying active fire behaviour, burning rank 5 and rank 6 in some areas, but is currently burning moving northwest away from the community of Cawston.

(UPDATE: July 30 @ 11:55 a.m.) - The Snowy Mountain wildfire remains at 1,910 hectares and is listed as out of control.

There are 21 firefighters and three helicopters, along with a remote camera that's continuing to provide real-time imaging to assist in monitoring the fire.

Today, crews will continue to bucket the fire, attempting to slow it down in the sub-alpine pass. 

A fuel free handline is also being established on the north flank of the fire, tying into the retardant drop from Sunday.

There are evacuation alerts in place for this fire, which you can learn about on the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen website.

(UPDATE: July 29 @ 9:10 p.m.) - Sunday saw no action from the Snowy Mountain wildfire and no new information is available.

(UPDATE: July 29 @ 12:19 p.m.) - After the Snowy Mountain wildfire, burning in an remote area 14 km south of Keremeos, received some heightened activity yesterday, it is now estimated at 1,910 hectares in size.

On Saturday morning, the fire was an estimated 1,530 hectares in size. 

Photo Credit: BC Wildfire Service

The fire moved down slope into a grassy area, where helicopters were deployed to cool the fire. The fire activity has lessened but helicopters continue to work some areas.

Today a unit crew of 20 personnel will be establishing a hand guard in the draw on the north flank, supported by air tanker operations. Planned hand ignitions will be conducted.

There are also three helicopters on site. There are no current evacuation orders or alerts in place for this fire. 

(UPDATE: July 29 @ 12:17 a.m.) -  Helicopters were deployed to cool the expanding fire as it progressed on the north flank of Snowy Mountain Saturday afternoon. 

BCWFS reports that "fire activity has lessened but helicopters continue to work in some areas."

The fire has not reached the predetermined trigger points which would result in a reassessment of the fire. 

Despite smoke visible from the Cawston community, no structures are threatened at this time.

(UPDATE: July 27 @ 9:20 p.m.) - The Snowy Mountain fire has not grown in size and one helicopter is bucketing the area to cool hot spots and prevent fire spread.

The fire and smoke are visible to the Keremos and Cawston communities. 

(UPDATE: July 24 @ 9:30 p.m.) -  Snowy Mountain hasn't experienced any growth since it's developments noted on Monday. BC Wildfire has not yet enlisted any resources to fight the fire. 

(UPDATE: July 23 @ 10:30 p.m.) - The Snowy Mountain Fire has grown but has not attracted any resources to the wildfire yet.

The Snowy Mountain Fre has not shown "extreme fire behaviour over the last several days," explained Ken Juvik, Fire Information Officer with the Kamloops Fire Centre, however, but it has shown some growth.

Photo Credit: BCWFS

The previously 1,360-hectare fire has expanded to 1,530 hectares but has not had firefighters dispatched to suppress the fire. Instead, the fire will continue to be monitored due to its isolated location. 

BC Wildfire has consulted Land Managers and marked trigger points to determine when the fire will be actioned.

Photo Credit: BCWFS

Despite the visible smoke billowing from the fire that can be seen from the surrounding communities, it is not threatening any structures at this time.

(Original Story: July 22 @ 10:47 a.m.) - There’s another noteworthy fire burning in our fire zone.

Crews are responding to a fire located in the Snowy Protected Area, 14 km south of Keremeos, which is now considered a wildfire of note. 

Photo Credit: BC Wildfire Service

The Snowy Mountain wildfire is estimated at 1,360 hectares in size and was discovered on July 17. There are currently 0 resources allocated to this fire, and BC Wildfire will be taking a modified response.

It is being monitored and assessed due to the extremely remote and inaccessible location. BC Parks has closed the Ewart and Wall Creek Trails pending further assessment of this fire.

A remote camera is being mounted to provide officials with more information on the growth of this fire.

The cause of the blaze is listed as lightning.

Local Community Advertising

Trending Stories

UPDATE: Shovel Lake wildfire mapped at over 85,000 hectares after planned ignition

UPDATE: Alkali Lake wildfire sees minimal growth

UPDATE: Gottfriedsen Mountain wildfire under control

PHOTOS: BC before and after the wildfire smokescreen

Air quality index currently at very high risk

UPDATE: Kelowna Apple Triathlon officials hoping to go ahead with Sunday race schedule

Carpet of smoke continues poor provincial air quality, statement issued

Interior Health warns B.C. residents to take precautions due to wildfire smoke

Kelowna traveller stranded in Calgary as B.C. wildfire smoke impacts flights

UPDATE: Planned ignitions conducted at Juliet Creek wildfire