VIDEO: Ground crews keep a close eye on largest B.C. wildfire

Originally estimated to be 79,192 hectares, officials said more accurate mapping shows smaller size

Ground crews near Fort St. James kept a close eye on the Shovel Lake fire overnight. Officials hope that today’s winds remain light.

The fire, burning at an estimated 78,564 hectares is the largest fire burning in B.C.

Originally estimated to be 79,192 hectares, BC Wildfire Service said the reduction in size was due to more accurate mapping thanks to clear skies that moved in late Friday.

The fire remains active, visible from surrounding communities including Fraser Lake and Endako. Yesterday, due to mid-day wind, the provincial wildfire service issued an extreme fire behaviour warning.

READ MORE: RCMP work to ‘neutralize’ explosives on property near Shovel Lake wildfire

“When (humidity) drops below a certain percentage that’s when we start to see increased fire behaviour as the fuels start to dry out. Because all our fuels are already pretty dry, when there is no humidity to help out, it just increases fire behaviour,” fire information officer Forest Tower said at the time.

The aggressive fire is under 24-7 watch by a rotating shift crew made up of structural protection specialists and firefighters, BC Wildfire Service said.

Supplied with equipment from the Office of the Fire Commissioner the team is assessing and protecting structures as needed on the north shore of Fraser Lake, Nadleh Whut’en and out to the Echo Lake and Dog Creek areas.

Sign near a work site in Fort St. James.(Alex Pierre/Facebook)

Firefighters from Mexico sent to help fight the raging fire, were able to deal with smouldering hotspots in areas burned near Endako.

Meanwhile, crews were able to conduct a burn-off from Stern Lake to Ormond Creek to remove fuels from the south perimeter. The planned ignition was supported by water-skimming aircraft.

“This will act as a fuel free area to help stop the fire growth south towards the north shore of Fraser Lake by removing fuel within the fire perimeter to eliminate the chance of re-burn and fire spotting potential,” the BC Wildfire Service said.

Saturday’s forecast is calling for sun with variable winds from the south and southwest moving in with some gusts anticipated. The 113 firefighters will be working towards establishing guards along the Pacific Northern Gas pipeline, east from Stern Lake, as well as along the east side of the fire on the Sutherland Forest Service road and Barlow Forest Service Road.

There are nearly 600 blazes burning across the province.

Have photos or a news tip about the Shovel Lake wildfire? Email provincial reporter Ashley Wadhwani with ‘Shovel Lake’ in the subject line.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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