More than a week after it started, the forest fire above Slocan Park is holding steady. The fire remains an estimated 120 hectares with no containment.
“There isn’t much difference in size,” information officer Jordan Turner said Monday.
Crews have built eight helipads and hope to complete a ninth today, which Turner suggested should let them “make a lot of headway on this fire” because until now, they have been hiking in 2 km daily.
They also continue to try to get a hose line around the fire. Turner said it is three-quarters completed around the west flank, and firefighters are continuing down the east and south flanks today.
Three 20-member crews are battling the fire, along with 14 support staff and nine helicopters, which are drawing water from the Slocan River and some small mountaintop lakes.
Officials say overnight inversions may result in a “thermal belt” forming — a warm air layer trapped between two cooler layers of air and can affect local winds.
The thermal belt is causing increased smoke in the valley bottoms through the mornings. At night, flames may be visible and appear more threatening, which is being taken into account. A night watch is in place to monitor the fire behaviour and report any concerns to the Southeast Fire Centre.
An evacuation alert issued early Tuesday for 47 homes remains in effect. A decision about lifting the alert would be made by the Regional District of Central Kootenay in conjunction with fire officials. Turner said they want to “take every precaution” as thunderstorms are expected in the next few days, which may bring some wind.
A lightning strike started the fire Saturday, but it didn’t become a concern until Monday when it was fanned by high winds.
Turner said a powerline and two communications towers in the area aren’t immediately threatened, although fire suppressant has been placed near them.
Smoke alert rescinded
The Ministry of Environment and Interior Health have cancelled wildfire smoke advisory issued Friday for Nelson, Castlegar, and Creston.
Smoke from fires in the BC interior as well as from Washington and Idaho was causing heavy particulate concentrations in local skies.
However, smoke has remained within acceptable levels since Saturday morning, and models suggest these conditions will continue for the next few days.