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White Rock Lake Wildfire Update - September 2, 2021

Posted Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Update, September 2, 17:05 hrs - The RDNO has partially rescinded this evacuation order. Properties on Irish Creek Road, and within the RDNO, have been downgraded to an Evacuation Alert. The remaining properties on Evacuation Order are still on Evacuation Order. Read more: http://www.rdno.ca/index.php/news/media-releases/evacuation-order-rescinded-for-portion-of-electoral


White Rock Lake Wildfire Update – September 1, 2021

The BC Wildfire Service observed no further growth in the fire yesterday, August 31. The August 30 planned ignitions in Irish Creek, and precipitation across the fire, have reduced the risk of further spread on most of the fire perimeter. The planned ignition was 975 hectares in size with 6 kilometres of guard that crews burned from.

Planned ignitions have brought the fire down to established control lines in several key areas on the northeast of the fire, making containment possible in the next nine days. Across the fire, crews, including 120 Canadian Armed Forces, are engaged in mop-up and patrol of areas that are still exhibiting fire behaviour. Drone scans are identifying hotspots that crews are seeking out on the ground and extinguishing.

Fire Operations Update

Objectives set out for each division will remain fairly static going forward as most of the fire is in mop-up and patrol status.

East flank: Crews are making good progress actioning any hot spots identified along the southeast flank.

Northeast flank, south of Glenemma: Crews are working containment lines along where the large-scale ignition occurred on August 30. Crews in the Ewer Creek and Irish Creek areas are continuing to fully extinguish the fire perimeter in the area where the planned ignition occurred on August 24 and are continuing to work on a 100-foot blackline into the fires edge.

North flank: Today, crews will complete mop-up operations along the Ingram Forest Service Road. An infrared drone scan was completed along this flank to help crews action hotspots within 50 feet of the fire perimeter. Crews today are actioning hot spots north of Highway 97.

West flank: No growth has been observed along this flank over the past week. Crews will continue mop-up and patrol from Torch Road to Monte Pratt today, as well as from Highway 97B to Torch Road.

South flank: Aerial resources continue to monitor this flank of the fire.

Resources

  • 329 wildland firefighters
  • 21 structure protection personnel
  • Six helicopters
  • Nine danger tree assessors/fallers
  • 35 pieces of heavy equipment
  • BC Wildfire Service Incident Management Team and additional support staff
  • Addition air support (skimmers/ air tankers) are available if needed

The RDNO’s Evacuation Order remains in place and unchanged since it was issued on August 15. The RDNO's Evacuation Order applies to a section of Electoral Area "B" above Westside Road.

This fire spans the boundaries of multiple regional districts, municipalities, and the Okanagan Indian Band. The affected jurisdictions will issue evacuation Alerts and Orders on the recommendation of the BC Wildfire Service. Information for areas outside of the RDNO Electoral Area boundaries can be found with the local area authority as follows:

The Wildfires of Note webpage for White Rock Lake wildfire is a good resource for residents to stay up to date.


August 31, 2021 - 9:57 hrs

The planned ignitions on the White Rock Lake wildfire (K61884) occurred yesterday and wrapped up around 20:30 hrs, and BC Wildfire Service crews happily shared that the operation was successful. They estimate that containment may now be achieved in the next 7-10 days versus the expected six weeks+ if the fire was left to reach containment lines naturally.

The area where ignitions occurred will continue to burn and produce smoke over the next several days. Crews and aerial resources will remain on-site to patrol containment lines.

These ignitions have brought the fire down to established control lines in several key areas on the northeast of the fire. This has reduced the risk of further growth and impacts in the interface area, which is the area of the fire that poses a risk to structures.

Significant groundwork and planning occurred over the past two weeks in order to successfully this planned ignition. The Thunderbirds Unit Crew, Rangers Unit Crew and RAP India worked tirelessly to build a large fuel-free area to support ignitions today. A portion of this fuel-free area is pictured below, along with the crews that constructed it.

For further information, visit the Wildfires of Note Webpage: http://bcfireinfo.for.gov.bc.ca/hprScripts/WildfireNews/OneFire.asp?ID=855


August 30, 2021 - 08:18 hrs

Site conditions and weather are favourable for a large-scale ignition today on the northeast corner of the White Rock Lake wildfire. The burn will be low intensity with low tree mortality. The identified burn area from site assessment today is ~3000 hectares.

Planned ignition operations are critical to achieving containment in areas where the fire perimeter is inoperable and unsafe for ground crews and heavy equipment to work. Planned ignitions are the safest way to remove fuel that can burn well into fall and winter by the wildfire. In 2018, fires that occurred in severe drought areas burned underground over winter and started burning in the spring again.

Given the extreme drought over the wildfire area, the large-scale ignition in the Irish Creek Road area is critical to ensure that the fire perimeter is secure as possible with no fuel available for further growth. Without these ignitions, the wildfire will continue to burn out of control into fall in heavy fuels with the potential to impact Hwy 97 and the surrounding interface.

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.

A large fuel-free guard has been constructed over the last two weeks by Unit Crews and heavy equipment that will act as the containment line for the ignition. Hose lays are completed along the guards that the ignitions will occur from.

Support Resources:
• 2 helicopters with PDS machines
• 1 helicopter with heli-torch
• 40 BCWS Type 1 firefighters to conduct hand ignitions
• Structure protection task force
• 6 heavy helicopters for cooling support
• 2 mobile retardant pits
• Additional air support is available, as needed.

Residents are advised that excessive smoke will be seen from the area today. The Wildfires of Note page for this fire is a great resource for residents to stay up to date.


August 27, 2021 - 08:44 hrs

Crews continue to see positive progress along all flanks of the White Rock Lake fire. Danger Tree Assessments are currently being completed along the west flank of the fire in preparation for military personnel to commence patrolling in the area tomorrow.

Yesterday, a firefighter was injured during routine mop-up activities. The firefighter was working along a steep section of the control line when they lost their footing and took a tumble downhill. Medical aid was on-site and responded accordingly. The injured worker was taken to the Kelowna General Hospital via aerial and ground transportation as a precautionary measure. No substantial injuries were sustained and the worker has now returned to fire camp.

East flank: Crews and equipment are continuing to patrol and mop-up throughout the Six Mile Creek valley bottom. Crews worked on mopping up after the successful ignition operation on August 25, north of Terrace Mountain, west towards the fire perimeter above Shorts Creek. These crews are continuing to action any hot spots identified along the southeast flank. Once mop-up is complete, the BC Wildfire Service will reassess the safety of the area and recommend changes to evacuation orders and alerts accordingly.

Northeast flank, south of Glenemma: Winds on-site today, August 27, are again not favourable for the large-scale ignition operation planned along this flank and, therefore, the 3000-hectare planned ignition operation will not be carried out today. If and when site conditions are favourable, additional information will be provided prior to ignition. Any visible fire behaviour in this area is not related to the planned ignition operation that successfully occurred on August 24 and does not pose a risk to structures. Crews in this area are continuing to fully extinguish the fire perimeter in the area where the planned ignition occurred on August 24, and are continuing to work on a 100 ft blackline into the fires edge.

North flank: Today, crews continue to complete mop-up operations along the Ingram Forest Service Road. An infrared drone scan was completed along this flank to help crews action hotspots within 50 feet of the fire perimeter. Crews today are actioning hot spots north of Highway 97.

West flank: No growth has been observed along this flank over the past week. Crews will continue mop-up and patrol from Torch Road to Monte Pratt today. Danger Tree Assessments are currently being completed in preparation for having military personnel commence patrolling in the area tomorrow.

South flank: Aerial resources continue to monitor this flank of the fire.

Updates will be issued as they are received from the BC Wildfire Service at www.rdno.ca and the RDNO Facebook page.


August 26, 2021, 08:30 hrs

Yesterday (August 25), planned ignitions were used on the southeast flank to secure the fire perimeter burning north of Terrace Mountain, west towards the fire perimeter above Shorts Creek. The aerial ignitions removed approximately 450-hectares of fuel between the fire's edge and the pre-established control line. This ignition operation is the final piece to securing safety for residents in the area. Once fully complete, the BC Wildfire Service will reassess the safety of the area and recommend changes to evacuation orders and alerts accordingly.

Winds from the southeast are not favourable for the larger-scale planned ignition along Irish Creek Road. Therefore, the larger-scale planned ignition operation on the northeast flank will again not be carried out today. If and when site conditions are favourable, additional information will be provided prior to ignition. Crews and equipment will continue to defend pre-established containment lines above communities and protect structures. Structure protection personnel are continuing to action hot spots and mop-up around impacted interface areas.

During ignition operations, significant amounts of smoke will be visible from nearby communities, including Kelowna, West Kelowna, Vernon, Lake Country, and Okanagan Indian Band.

Updates will be issued as they are received from the BC Wildfire Service at www.rdno.ca and the RDNO Facebook page.

The Fires of Note page for the White Rock Lake Wildfire is a great resource for residents to stay up to date.


August 25, 2021, 08:00 hrs

The BC Wildfire Service has been preparing for a series of planned ignition operations to occur on the White Rock Lake wildfire. The objective of these planned ignitions is to bring the fire’s perimeter down to pre-established control lines where ground crews can effectively put out the fire’s edge. Due to steep and inaccessible terrain on the northeast and southeast flanks, it has been determined that planned ignitions in these areas are the most favourable tactic to gain control while also maintaining an appropriate safety margin for firefighters.

Yesterday (August 24, 2021), ground and aerial personnel successfully completed a small-scale 350 hectare planned ignition along the northeastern flank of the fire perimeter, north of Newport Beach towards Irish Creek Road. This ignition burned at a relatively low intensity along with the understory, with very little tree mortality. The ignition was critical to securing the area east of the larger-scale planned ignition set to occur in the coming week.

Winds on-site today, August 25, are forecast to be out of the southeast 10-15 kilometres per hour, gusting up to 30 kilometres per hour. Winds from the southeast are not favourable for the larger-scale planned ignition operation in this area. As a result, the larger-scale planned ignition operation on the northeast flank will NOT be carried out tomorrow. If and when site conditions are favourable, additional information will be provided prior to ignition.

On the southeast flank of the White Rock Lake wildfire, planned ignitions will also be used to secure the fire perimeter burning north of Terrace Mountain, west towards the fire perimeter above Shorts Creek. Given the forecasted winds out of the southeast, conditions on-site tomorrow are ideal and will allow aerial and ground resources to carry out these planned ignitions as early as 12:00 PDT. The ignitions will take place northwest of Fintry Park and will remove approximately 200 hectares of fuel between the fire’s edge and the pre-established five-kilometre-long machine guard south of the fire.

Planned ignitions on the White Rock Lake wildfire are being carried out with low-intensity aerial and hand ignitions. Aerial resources are using Plastic Sphere Dispensers (PSD) to ignite fuels from the fire’s edge, which is burning in steep terrain where it is unsafe for ground personnel to work. As the PSDs bring the fire’s perimeter towards the control lines, ground crews will be using hand ignitions to ensure containment along the control line. Hose lay has been established along the control line where ground crews are actively patrolling for any spot fires. Helicopter water bucketing will support ground personnel throughout the duration of the ignitions.
During ignition operations, significant amounts of smoke will be visible from nearby communities, including Kelowna, West Kelowna, Vernon, Lake Country, and Okanagan Indian Band.

Updates will be issued as they are received from the BC Wildfire Service at www.rdno.ca and the RDNO Facebook page.

The Fires of Note page for the White Rock Lake Wildfire is a great resource for residents to stay up to date.


August 23, 2021 - 13:15 hrs

The White Rock Lake wildfire is now sized at an estimated 80,745 hectares. Although there are cool temperatures in the forecast, winds will remain gusty throughout the day. Fire fuels continue to be dry and fire behavior is expected to increase into the afternoon.

Crews and equipment continue to work on pre-established containment lines above communities on all flanks. Structure protection personnel are working on hot spots and mop-up around impacted areas. The east flank is seeing incredibly deep burning forest fuels, making it difficult to bring this area into full extinguishment. The northeast flank will have control lines completed from Irish Creek to Six Mile Road by end of day tomorrow and aerial resources continue to cool the area with water buckets. The BC Wildfire Service is preparing to conduct a large-scale planned ignition operation in this area within the next few days. Significant planning, forecasting, and data analysis has been completed and will continue to be assessed prior to the ignition operation.  The planned ignition area is upwards of 3,000 hectares in size. During the ignition operations, significate amounts of smoke will be visible from nearby communities including Vernon, Armstrong, Glennema, and Falkland.

Crews are focusing on completing mop-up on the north and west flanks with an infrared scan completed on the north flank. This will help operational personnel determine where to focus contingency fuel-free buffer zones from the west side of Pinaus Lake working south towards established containment lines.

The RDNO's current Evacuation Order is still in effect, and residents are encouraged to stay up to date with current situations through their local government’s communication channels.

There are currently 280 wildland firefighters, 88 structural protection personnel, 10 helicopters, 11 danger tree assessors/ fallers, 55 pieces of heavy equipment along with the BC Wildfire Service Incident Management Team and additional support staff working on this fire.

This fire spans the boundaries of multiple regional districts, municipalities, and the Okanagan Indian Band. The affected jurisdictions will issue evacuation Alerts and Orders on the recommendation of the BC Wildfire Service. Information for areas outside of the RDNO Electoral Area boundaries can be found with the local area authority as follows:

The Fires of Note webpage for the White Rock Lake wildfire is a good resource for residents to stay up to date.

Further information will be issued as updates are received from the BC Wildfire Service. RDNO residents are encouraged to visit www.rdno.ca, and the RDNO Facebook page for more information. A detailed map of all Evacuation Alerts and Orders in the area can be found at EmergencyMapBC.