The Ross Moore Lake wildfire continues to expand and is now just 10 kilometres south of Kamloops city limits as a major rain and windstorm blows through the city on Monday night (July 24).
At about 9 p.m., strong winds and heavy rain arrived in parts of the city, with the winds strong enough to toss patio furniture around. Weather radar shows rain falling in the vicinity of the fire and expected to continue to at least midnight.
The lightning-caused wildfire, which was discovered on the afternoon of July 21, is now estimated at 2,600 hectares in size as of Monday afternoon (July 24), up from a previous estimate of1,800 hectares.
There has been a report of one lost structure from the wildfire, Thompson-Nicola Regional District CAO Scott Hildebrand told KTW.
“All we know right now is it’s some kind of secondary recreational structure. We need to do our due diligence and make sure we find out the appropriate ownership before we say any more,” he said.
Hildebrand said he is not aware of any injuries or loss of life from the fire.
Hildebrand said he is still waiting on new data from the RCMP regarding how many of residents in properties ordered to evacuate remain inside the evacuation zone. Of the initial 49 properties ordered out, he said about half of the residents remained.
He noted the latest evacuation order came late Sunday night and some residents may not have opted to leave right away.
“I know it was a surprise to a lot of people,” he said.
Despite the fire growth, the current evacuation order for 344 properties and evacuation alert for another 157 properties in place for Electoral Area J (Copper Desert Country, which includes the Lac Le Jeune area) and Electoral Area “L” (Grasslands. which includes Knutsford) has not expanded.
“Nothing changed with alerts or orders. I think the cooler weather certainly is helping a little but, although the wind is still up there,” Hildebrand said.
A City of Kamloops evacuation alert also remains unchanged for Knutsford.
Kamloops Fire Centre fire information officer Shaelee Stearns said the fire remains burning out of control. She said a 20-person unit crew arrived Monday afternoon to assist an initial attack crew fighting the fire, which was burning at rank one and two — smouldering ground fire with occasional surface flames and slow rate of spread — overnight Sunday.
Heavy equipment and air tankers are also being utilized on the fire suppression
Stearns said the fire is being driven by windy conditions, which can vary across the Kamloops Fire Centre. She said firefighters will adjust their tactics based on how the wind is influencing the fire’s source about 24 kilometres south of the city.
NASA FIRM maps show the fire generally spreading in a northeast direction from its ignition site.
Meanwhile, two wildfires burning on either side of Adams Lake remain classified as out of control.
The Bush Creek East wildfire, to the west of Adams Lake, is 400 hectares in size, while the Lower East Adams Lake wildfire, to the east of Adams Lake, is 2,000 hectares in size, Stearns said.
The Bush Creek East wildfire has 35 firefighters working to extinguish the blaze, but there are none on the ground at the Lower East wildfire as it is burning in steep terrain that poses safety hazards, Stearns said. She said there are, however, helicopters that have been monitoring the fire over the past few days. She said no structures are being immediately threatened by these fires.