Snowy Mountain blaze nears 11,000 hectares as two new fires spark nearby

Snowy Mountain blaze nears 11,000 hectares as two new fires spark nearby

The Snowy Mountain wildfire has expanded due to high winds and two new fires have sparked early this morning. (BC Wildfire Service)

After an increase in wind activity late Friday, the Snowy Mountain wildfire is now burning at 10,911 hectares.

“Last night, aggressive fire behaviour occurred on the Snowy Mountain Fire with extreme winds out of the north,” BC Wildfire Service said.

The fire remained to the west of Chopaka Road but is burning in a southward direction.

BC Wildfire Service night crews responded in conjunction with the Keremeos Fire Department and additional resources were deployed to assist, including initial attack crews and officers out of Penticton and BC Wildfire Service Incident Management Team staff.

Early this morning, two new fires were reported within the Lower Similkameen Indian Band jurisdiction. BC Wildfire Service says the new fires are not spot fires resulting from the winds on the Snowy Mountain fire.

BC Wildfire Service crews were reassigned to the Snowy Mountain fire to respond to the two new fires.

Because the steep terrain is inoperable in some areas and poses a safety risk to firefighting personnel, crews are being strategically placed where it is safe and where suppression objectives can be met.

Crews are positioned in rotations for 24-hour coverage, working on the south flank to protect communities around where evacuation orders have been implemented. Control lines are being constructed with heavy equipment.

Crews are supported by bucketing helicopters as they work south to conduct burn-offs as safe conditions allow to remove fuel from the slopes adjacent to properties in order to halt the forward progression of the fire.

Structural protection specialists will continue to assess properties on the valley bottom, moving south along the Chopaka Road.

The spot fire that occurred due to very strong winds on the east side of the Similkameen River on the riverbank in the Beecroft Road area had 25 BC Wildfire Service firefighters and the Keremeos Fire Department respond with heavy equipment. The spot fire does not pose a risk to structures or communities.