A series of rumbling, rattling thunder and lightning storms Aug. 6 to 8 caused only one fire of significance near Lillooet last week.
The fire was discovered Aug. 8 and was located 40 kilometres south of town near Highway 12 at Izman Creek.
The blaze, ignited sometime overnight, was initially reported on the afternoon of Aug. 8. It grew to 30 hectares by the end of that day and was fought by 60 firefighters, three helicopters and heavy equipment, including tankers and bulldozers. By Monday morning, Aug. 13, Kamloops Fire Centre fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek told the News the fire was 100 per cent contained.
“We’ve got approximately 40 people on site with heavy equipment,” said Skrepnek. “They’re working their way in from the containment line we have in place but because of the steep terrain, it may be a while before we have it fully mopped up.”
He said the fire burned in timber and no homes or other structures were ever threatened.
Skrepnek described the fire as a “holdover lightning strike” from Tuesday, Aug. 7.
“It didn’t immediately show up, but once it warmed up on Wednesday, it flared up,” he explained. “That can happen – sometimes it can take as long as three weeks for a fire started by lightning to flare up.”
Downpours that helped dampen local forests accompanied last week’s severe thunder and lightning activity.
Forests Ministry initial attack personnel and three trucks from the Lillooet Fire Department were called out around 11 a.m. on Aug. 7 to respond to a small fire on the hillside above Airport Road. The site was accessed by a narrow road just beyond the Lillooet Concrete Products site.
Skrepnek called that fire a “non-incident, a small spot fire” and said crews had it completely extinguished within an hour and a half.
He said that fire was also probably caused by a lightning strike. It was first reported by a spotter plane that went up last Tuesday morning to look for fires after the previous night’s lightning storm.
Seasonal fire-fighter staffing in the Lillooet Fire Zone includes six three-person initial attack crews stationed in Lillooet and Lytton and two 20-member unit crews based in Lytton and Shalalth.
Initial attack crews are usually first to respond to a fire call and are responsible for containing the fire to the smallest size possible through the use of water pumps, clearing forest fuels from the fire’s path, building guards and felling trees. These crews, deployed by truck or helicopter, are self-sufficient for 24 hours in a fire situation.
Unit crews are 20-person teams that provide fire suppression action for fires of significant size. They are also called sustainable action crews because of their specialized skills in fighting larger blazes as well as their ability to be self-sufficient in a fire for up to 72 hours.
An open burning ban has been in effect in the Lillooet Fire Zone since May 15 to help prevent human-caused fire and protect the public.
Specifically, this open fire prohibition applies to:
- the burning of any waste, slash or other material
- the burning of stubble or grass
- the use of fireworks or burning barrels of any size or description.
The ban does not restrict campfires that are a half-metre high by a half-metre wide (or smaller) and does not apply to cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes.