The Sitkum fire

The Sitkum fire

Incident team pulls back from Sitkum fire

The fire stands at 530 hectares and is 50 per cent contained as a specialist management team turns command back to local crews.

A specialist incident management team brought in last week to deal with the Sitkum/Duhamel fire transferred command back to local crews Thursday after hitting their prescribed time limit.

However, information officer Noelle Kekula said things appear to be well in hand.

“We are only allowed to work certain days and then we have to rest,” she said. “We have turned it over to the local fire zone. They will keep the crews working on it.”

The fire has slowly crept up to 530 hectares from 450. As of Thursday, 82 firefighters were working on the blaze along with three pieces of heavy equipment and three helicopters. It is considered 50 per cent contained.

Kekula said while her 10-member crew needs rest, “there is some confidence in our control lines that we can turn it over to the zone and another incident command team doesn’t need to come in.”

Keula said crews had some success with burnoffs Wednesday as relative humidity levels dropped. However, it resulted in a lot of smoke coming off the mountain.

“They are slowly meeting their targets,” she said. “This fire is going to keep smoking for a long time. Don’t panic when you see it.”

An evacuation alert for about 350 homes was lifted Monday, nine days after the fire flared up, but backcountry restrictions for the Six Mile area remain in effect.

Meanwhile, the eight-hectare Mount Aylwin fire south of Silverton is fully contained and in final patrol, with no smoke showing, information officer Fanny Bernard said.

Cooler temperatures, higher humidity, and a bit of rain all helped. An evacuation alert for about 35 residents was lifted Tuesday.

No other fires of note are burning within the Southeast Fire Centre, but the weekend forecast calls for mostly sunshine and temperatures in the low 30s.

Bernard said there have been 270 fires so far this year in the region, compared to 81 by this time last year. Fifty-six of this year’s fires have been human-caused.

Since Thursday, there have been 86 new fires, six started by people and the rest by lightning.

Bernard said most areas have had between 0.5 and 1.5 mm of rain over the last week, although “it was quite patchy” and did nothing to change the fire rating, which remains mostly moderate with large areas of high risk.

In addition to hotter, dryer weather this weekend Bernard says they’re expecting wind, which could fan smouldering fires.

A campfire ban remains in effect.