Summer of ’21 fires tamed by cooler, wet weather

·3 min read

Six weeks after forcing hundreds of people living along the west shore of the Arrow Lakes to flee, the second-biggest fire burning in the West Kootenay is now barely worth a mention.

The Michaud Creek wildfire south of Edgewood was taken off the BC Wildfire Service’s ‘wildfires of note’ page last week.

While still covering more than 13,000 hectares, Michaud and the neighbouring Octopus Creek fire (22,000 ha) across the lake are now classified as ‘being held,’ “which indicates that sufficient suppression action has been taken that the fire is not likely to spread beyond its boundaries under the current and forecasted conditions,” the BCWS says.

Both fires are displaying lower-ranked (2-3) fire activity.

It’s a far different situation from the start of August, when both fires prompted evacuation orders and alerts for several communities in the southern portion of the Arrow Lakes.

While firefighting crews worked hard to protect property and infrastructure in the fires’ path, it was a cool, wet August that turned the tide on the battle. The wettest August in a decade also put paid to the Trozzo Creek fire in the Slocan Valley, which was taken off the ‘wildfires of note’ list late last month.

Evacuation alerts issued for Renata, Fauquier and Applegrove were removed on August 24, leaving just a small recreation area on the south side of the Octopus fire under alert. Area restrictions remain in effect in the backcountry, however. Check the RDCK or BCWS websites for more information on alerts and orders.

The BCWS even lifted the provincial campfire ban late in the month, as forecasters predicted reduced threat of danger from recreational fires.

Though fire activity is much diminished, a thin veil of smoke still colours the air in the valleys, reminding residents the forest still remains very dry and conditions could change quickly.

“Monday will continue to be warm and dry, with temperatures in the mid to upper 20s,” wrote the BCWS about the Octopus Creek fire at press time. “There is a wind shift from the north today, which may increase fire behaviour - especially along the south flank where several pockets of unburned fuel exist along containment lines.”

Nearly 110 firefighters and managers, one helicopter and several pieces of heavy equipment remained on the Octopus Creek and Michaud Creek fires at the last update on August 25, the BCWS reported. Most of the rest of the Alberta-based crew stationed in Nakusp have been re-deployed to other assignments.

Crews continue to demob secured line where possible and supress hot spots that have been identified by infrared scan and patrols.

The situation continues to improve across the Valley Voice readership area. Out of the dozen or so fires burning in the area, only a month-old fire in a remote area of the Lardeau-Duncan near B-Flat Peak is still listed as ‘out of control’.

The 2,360 Mt. Ruppel fire southeast of Slocan City is listed as ‘being held,’ as are a series of six smaller fires around Trout Lake. All are burning in a remote area far from homes or infrastructure.

John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice

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