Spillimacheen fire reaches 100 per cent containment

The occupants of a residence north of Spillimacheen have been told to return home, now that the forest fire is 100 per cent contained.

The occupants of a single residence north of Spillimacheen have been told to return home, now that the forest fire is 100 per cent contained.

The fire — once 54 hectares in size — was still being managed by 21 firefighters as of July 13th, but the five pieces of heavy equipment and the two helicopters that were being used had been deployed elsewhere in the province.

Despite this piece of good news for residents around Spillimacheen, Southeast Fire Centre fire information officer Fanny Bernard said now is not the time for the public to think fire danger is over around the Columbia Valley.

“It doesn’t change anything from the prohibitions that we have in place,” Bernard said. “Campfires are banned. In the long-term, it is still very dry out there.”

Across the Southeast Fire Centre, this summer’s trend of increased wildfire incidences from past years has continued. From July 9th to 13th, 68 new fires were reported in the region.

“From the night of Friday to Saturday morning (July 9th to 10th), the Southeast Fire Centre responded to 41 new lightning-caused fires,” Bernard said. “Between April 1st and July 11th, 2014, we had had less than the amount of fires that we got overnight.”

Bernard said that, due to successful efforts of initial attack crews, most of the recent fires in the area have remained small. Because of this year’s increased strain on firefighters across the province, she said the public should remember to do everything possible to avoid human-caused fires.

“The BC Wildfire Service is urging the public to be extra cautious in the backcountry,” Bernard said. “All person-caused fires are preventable and these incidents may affect the ability of the firefighting crews to respond to naturally occurring fires”

Last week, the provincial government received word that its one-month contract for a Martin Mars water bomber had been approved. The plane had been retired for two years, but was previously used to fight fires for five decades.

The Martin Mars can dump 27,000 litres of water mixed with a fire-suppressing gel at once, but is so big that it can only be refilled in 113 of B.C.’s 1,700 water bodies. After the one-month contract is up, the province will have the option to apply for a second month.

“The contract for one month, with the possibility of a one-month extension, is $600,000,” Minister of Forests Steve Thompson said. “There is an additional per-hour flying cost when the Mars is used.”

The province has also asked for man-power from across Canada. Thus far, 95 firefighters from Ontario have arrived to combat various wildfires across the province.

To report a wildfire or an open burning violation, call 1-800-663-5555, or *5555 on a cellphone.