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Sept. 2: Elephant Hill fire reaches Sheridan Lake

<p>Smoke from the Elephant Hill fire billows up behind private residences located near the west end of Sheridan Lake on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 2. The fire came within 100 metres of a resort located further down the lake.</p> -

Smoke from the Elephant Hill fire billows up behind private residences located near the west end of Sheridan Lake on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 2. The fire came within 100 metres of a resort located further down the lake.

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By Max Winkelman – 100 Mile Free Press

Update at Saturday, Sept. 2, 9:10 p.m.: The north flank of the Elephant Hill fire was very active and the fire did get to Sheridan Lake, says Fire Information Officer Noelle Kekula.

"I actually don't know exactly where it reached Sheridan Lake because it's … so smokey and we don't have now any correct perimeters but somewhere on that south area is where it would have hit.

"However, I was talking to the structural protection unit folk and it was a successful day for them."

The wind switched at the right moment and burned back into itself, says Kekula.

The fire grew a bit to the north but didn't make any kind of big run, she says.

The guard they're building on the north east is ongoing, according to Kekula.

"They're continuing to work on building the flanks, that flank from Green Lake to Jack Frost and up to Sheridan. They're working on that, they're continuing to work on that and when they get back in tomorrow, they're going to assess where the fire went."

They'll be continuing to widen the Sheridan Lake Forest Service Road, says Kekula.

"Really, the objective is, get more [Strucutral Protection Units] out there, keep them running, keep assessing the properties… That really is the objective tomorrow, sprinklers, sprinklers, sprinklers."

The weather tomorrow is unfortunately expected to be the same as today, says Kekula.

"When the wind changed, it blew smoke into the Deadman Valley and it's really smoking Deadman and Kamloops country out… It's just a switch in the wind direction and that's where all the smoke is coming from."

Original story: There are no changes in objectives and the fire perimeter remains the same size, says Fire Information Officer for the Elephant Hill fire, Claire Allen.

"[We're] expecting winds to pick up starting at about 10:15 [a.m.], with some gusts up to 20 km per hour. That will be increasing throughout the day. Primarily winds are coming from south east in the morning and that will increasingly become from south west by this afternoon. …The gusts are expected to get up to at least 30 km this afternoon, with possible gusts of 35 to 40 km/hr."

Overnight recoveries have been good with relative humidity levels in the 65 to 70 per cent range, says Allen.

"In general, the fire behaviour we have been seeing overnight in the past couple days has been about rank two with some rank three. So indicative of the fact that the fire is still active, and has a lot of potential today for aggressive fire behaviour given the warm temperature and the breeze."

"What our crews did yesterday as well as last night, with night crews we had running and night groups of heavy equipment, is working to get as much secure containment line as possible and working in critical areas. Predominantly, that's been on the north west flank, below the south end of Green Lake, so working in the Mt Jim area, as well as between Jim Lake and Nolan Lake. We had a big group of Australian fire fighters working in that area yesterday - to secure that area, and they're pushing containment line with heavy equipment up north to Jack Frost Lake, which is where that northern-most tip of the fire has gone."

The goal is to then push that line as long as they are able to today given the fact that we may see some unsafe conditions, says Allen.

"As long as they are able to work safely the heavy equipment and the crews that are attached with those groups will be pushing the containment line east towards the west end of Sheridan Lake. That will tie in with ongoing construction that's already underway of widening the [Sheridan Forest Service Rd] which loops along the bottom of Sheridan Lake on the west side and that's to the south of where a lot of those lakefront homes are. So really doing everything we can to protect the values that may be threatened if the fire picks up in the north area."

Crews are also working from the Pressy Lake area and pushing guard north towards that forest service road, according to Allen.

"Crews are following all of them and looking for opportunities to do any kind of planned controlled hand ignition, which is very small scale controlled burning along the fire perimeter on the side where the fire would advance up to the containment line. That helps remove available fuel from the fires potential path, so that when the fire comes towards containment lines, with the values being on the other side, that the fire is reduced in its intensity and that helps hold the containment lines with of course an overall goal to stop the fire's advancement.

18 helicopters are already flying today and the bird dog is flying right now assessing objectives off of Green and Sheridan Lake for water skimming, but it is quite smokey - there's a smoke layer at 4500 feet right now - hindering the ability to safely operate and hit targets, says Allen

"As soon as that smoke inversion or smoke layer clears, then we will get the skimmers in there as soon as possible and they'll be working all day as long as they're able to given visibility concerns."

Their goal will be just to cool fire behaviour in order to buy time for ground crews and heavy equipment to get those containment lines in and to reduce the intensity of the fire at the head of it, as long as they're safely able to operate, says Allen.

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