Four officers from the Wildfire Management Branch of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources were in Burns Lake last Thursday night to update residents of the Burns Lake, Topley and the area on the status of the China Nose Mountain fire.
Cliff Chapman, Senior Protection Officer for the Northwest Fire Centre, Jim Richardson, Incident Commander for an incident management team, Tony Falco, Incident Commander for an incident management team and Tom Peckler, Structure Protection Specialist from the Office of the Fire Commissioner, along with representatives from the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN), including Bill Miller, Chair of the regional district and Mayor of Burns Lake, Luke Strimbold met with over 100 concerned citizens to provide an update on the fire.
The forest fire, stared by lightning, was spotted by Wildfire Management Branch personnel flying overhead on Aug. 11.
The fire which was at 50 hectares when first discovered, doubled in size over night and has continued to grow.
Drought like conditions in the Bulkley-Nechako area the past week has left fire fuels dry and cause the China Nose Mountain fire to spread quickly and display aggressive behaviour.
The fire now sits at approximately 4000 hectares.
The evacuation order issued Aug. 16 by the RDBN has been rescinded.for the areas South from 9840 Heading Creek Forest Service Road, North to Gilmore Lake Forest Service Road and Sunset Forest Service Road intersection, West to the Snow Mobile Cabin on Equity Mine Road, East to and including Crow Creek Road beyond the tracks, East to 22387 and 22507, North including the entirety of the Rose Lake Cutoff Road, including Day Lake Road, southern portions of the Forest Dale Canyon Road, northern portion of the Maxan Creek Forest Service Road to the southwest portion of the Decker-Maxan Road, including Bulkley Lake, Day Lake, Elwin Lake and Maxan Lake.
That area is now on evacuation alert.
The evacuation alert issued by the RDBN Aug. 16 has been rescinded, as well.
The evacuation alert that was issued covered the areas from the municipal boundary of the District of Houston from 4728 Bellicini Rd. and 4411 McKilligan Rd. east along Hwy. 16 corridor to the western boundary of the Village of Burns Lake at 1740 Nash Rd., including Murphy Road and Miller Road. This includes the communities of Topley, Rose Lake, Palling and Decker Lake. All roads connected to Hwy. 16 and including portions of Thomson Road, Decker-Maxan Road and Fisher Road.
All evacuees are urged to report to either the College of New Caledonia in Burns Lake at 545 Hwy. 16 or at the District of Houston Office at 2267 12 St. for registration.
Both registration offices will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
There are 135 firefighters currently battling the blaze, which has become a 24 hour operation for the Wildfire Management Branch.
There are 15 helicopter crews, including two heavy helicopter crews, which are the largest aircraft available, capable of dropping 1000 gallons of water at a time on the fire and 36 heavy equipment units assisting in firefighting efforts. In addition, there are 28 support staff, including a type one incident commander and three structural protection units assigned to the fire.
The China Nose Mountain fire has become one of the top priority fires in the area.
An area restriction order has been put in place, as well, which applies to the areas of McKilligan, Swan Lake, Heading Creek, Poisent Creek, Gilmore Lake Forest Service Road and portions of the Thompson Creek Forest Service Road immediately North of Maxan Lake.
B.C. Parks has closed Old Man Lake Provincial Park, too.
The Wildfire Management Branch has conducted a controlled burn off for the fire since Sunday, so residents should see an increase in smoke and flame activity.
A controlled burn off is conducted by the use of heavy equipment to create a guard in front of the fire, and then when safe to due so crews will burn off remaining fuel between the guard and the wildfire, removing fuel from the fire’s path.
Despite the progress on the fire, the public is encouraged to stay vigilant.
“We are by no means lowering our guard,” Mike McCulley, Information Officer for the Wildfire Management Branch said, “We ask the public to do the same.”
The weather cooled off Monday, and the area experienced a small amount of rain, but the forecast for the rest of the week calls for clear skies and warm weather.
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