A total of eight helicopters are working on the Perry Ridge wildfire near Winlaw.

Perry Ridge wildfire a provincial priority

A Type I Command Team has taken over the Perry Ridge forest fire as the blaze becomes a priority location in the province.

A Type I Command Team has taken over the Perry Ridge forest fire as the blaze becomes a priority location in the province.

As of early Tuesday afternoon the wildfire west of Winlaw was estimated at 97 hectares in size. It was first spotted last Wednesday.

“Crews report that the fire was fairly quiet overnight,” Southeast Fire Centre spokeswoman Karlie Shaughnessy told the Star. “The crews have made progress and have established approximately 1,860 metres of handguard on the southern portion of the west and east flanks.”

A handguard is a three-metre spacing which crews dig down and remove all combustable debris. They then tap into a nearby water source and begin fighting spraying the fire inward.

The Type I Command team consists of some of the best Ministry of Forests wildfire specialists in the province and includes a section chief, logistics person, finance person, incident commander and operations person. In total there are currently 80 firefighters and eight helicopters fighting the Perry Ridge fire.

The firefighters consist of the locally-based Valhalla Unit Crew and Sentinel Unit Crew who are being joined by the Monashee Unit Crew (Revelstoke) and the Flathead (Cranbrook) who were en route Tuesday morning.

The fire is located in extremely difficult terrain with no road access. Crews are delivered to the area via the air and parts of the fire are only able to be actioned from the sky using helicopters and 802 air tractor planes.

With blazing temperatures expected to be put on hold for the next few days, it may provide some assistance to the crews on the ground.

“The forecast is fairly good news for our fire, but it will depend on how much rain we do see with this system,” said Shaughnessy.

On Monday another forest fire was spotted in the area near Ainsworth Hot Springs. The small spot fire is located 4 km from Ainsworth near Loon Lake. There is currently one initial attack crew (three people) on location.

So far this fire season there have been 80 fires which have burned a total of 285 hectares. Of those 80 fires, 49 have been lightning caused the rest were started by people. The five-year average for fires at this point in the wildfire season is 133.

Depending on what the next few days bring in terms of weather, the Ministry of Forests may implement a campfire ban for the region.