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UPDATED: Slocan Park evacuation alert rescinded and campfire ban lifted

A helicopter scoops up water from the Slocan River on Saturday as it helps fight the Slocan Park forest fire. - Rich Podovelnikoff photo
A helicopter scoops up water from the Slocan River on Saturday as it helps fight the Slocan Park forest fire.
— image credit: Rich Podovelnikoff photo

Friday update:

Mother nature has given wildfire crews working on the Slocan Park fire a big helping hand. Incident commander Mitch Pence said that with 30 millimeters of rain falling on the fire over the last 24 hours, the team did not action the fire today.

“It was so socked in this morning we didn’t even get aircraft on the fire today,” said Pence.

Neither did ground crews as Pence said the steep 45 to 50 per cent slopes were a safety hazard for fire crews as the rain made the ground too slippery. Pence said the incident management team is scheduled to leave the Slocan Lake Park fire on Saturday.

Information officer Jordan Turner said that the Slocan Park fire is 80 per cent contained at this point, with six kilometres of hose line established along the fire perimeter.

Eighty-one fire fighters are on standby waiting to go back to work on the fire depending on the weather tomorrow.

Turner also stated that the campfire ban in the Southeast Fire Centre has been rescinded as of 4 p.m. today.

“The wildfire risk has greatly decreased due to the recent precipitation and cooler weather is forecasted,” he said.

Thursday:

An evacuation alert for 47 homes in the vicinity of the wildfire burning east of Slocan Park has been rescinded.

"Mother Nature is helping us out with this wet weather and the Southeast Fire Centre has been outstanding in its efforts to fight this fire," said Terry Swan, regional fire chief with the Regional District of Central Kootenay, which issued the alert a week ago Tuesday.

Eighteen millimeters of rain fell on the fire as of 2 p.m. this afternoon but it has now stopped.

Information officer Julie Castonguay said the fire is now 60 per cent contained. It officially measures 90 hectares — compared to the 120 hectares originally estimated.

About 100 firefighters were working on the blaze, along with 15 support staff and six helicopters, down from eight.

Crews completed a controlled burn Tuesday to help create a control line on the fire’s southern flank, resulting in increased visibility of smoke and flames. Although a second day of burning was planned Wednesday, it was deemed unnecessary.

The fire’s east and south flanks were fully surrounded with control and hose lines, and crews expected to start working inward toward the fire. A line around the west flank was almost complete as well.

Castonguay said the cooler, wet weather this week “definitely helped." However, it also makes things slippery for crews, who are being flown off the hill. The forecast calls for more rain tomorrow, and crews may be grounded for a day to let the rain go by.

Nine helipads are helping crews gain access to the fire. A night watch is no longer in place.

Tubers and kayakers are being asked to be be careful as helicopters are using the Slocan River as a water source, especially deeper sections.

Notices have been placed at common put-in and take-out sites as well as community bulletin boards.

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