Huge B.C. fire fighting effort underway

AIR TANKER drops retardant on the Tisigar Lake fire in northwestern BC. - PHOTO COURTESY BC FOREST SERVICE
AIR TANKER drops retardant on the Tisigar Lake fire in northwestern BC.

PROVINCIAL forest fire officials are mounting one of the largest fire-fighting efforts in years in the northwest following the sudden growth of a blaze south of the Yukon border.

As many as 100 people will be on duty by the end of the weekend to contain the Tisigar Lake fire north of Good Hope Lake.

We're asking for a lot of resources – people, equipment,” said fire information officer Lindsay Carnes yesterday as officials put together the details of the operation.

The list includes all that's needed to set up a fire camp to feed, house and look after firefighters, said Carnes.

There are not a lot of resources [in the fire area] and we recognize this will be a long term effort, for a month or so,” she said.

The fire first caught the attention of fire officials earlier this week and grew Wednesday night thanks to high high winds to approximately 900 hecatres, crossing Hwy 37 North.

As of yesterday, the fire was approximately 6,000 hectares in size.

While helicopters and air tankers worked to contain the fire, ground crews were held back because of the danger caused by winds.

Officials have closed Hwy 37 North north of Good Hope Lake and there's no indication yet of when it will open.

It's a very large fire. We know we will not be able to put it out but we will work to manage it,” said Carnes. “Our plan is to be able to open the highway when it is safe and to protect structures.”

There's a ranch in the area and several other buildings.

The forest service had approximately 27 firefighters on duty by mid week and the first reinforcements from the south are flying into Prince George today and will then be chartered to Watson Lake.

The demand for firefighters comes just as northwestern crews are returning from duty in Alberta.

Four of the region's crews have spent the better part of the past two weeks in northern Alberta where a fire destroyed approximately one-third of the homes in Slave Lake.

As these crews return, they'll be getting their mandatory days of rest and they'll be available by Monday,” said Carnes.

This blaze is south of a large one that also closed Hwy37 North in late July and early August last year.








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