By Steve Hubrecht

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The Horsethief Creek wildfire has doubled in size.

The fire began burning on Monday, July 24 and has been casting smoke plumes over the valley, with flames at times visible from the valley bottom, ever since. It initially grew rapidly, but for several days late last week and into early this week it seemed to hold steady — with the BC Wildfire Service listing it as mapped on 1,020 hectares for most of that time, up to Pioneer press deadline on Tuesday, Aug. 1.

On Wednesday, Aug. 2 the mapped size of the fire leapt up to 1,975 hectares.

A provincial Incident Management Team has been assigned to the Horsethief Creek fire, and the nearby Yearling Creek wildfire (on the southern boundary of Kootenay National Park) and Mia Creek wildfire (east of Canal Flats). Collectively the three fires are known as the Horsethief Complex.

In an update posted in the evening of Tuesday, Aug. 1 Horsethief Complex operations section chief Wes McKay explained that wildland fire fighters had put a halt to planned ignitions at Yearling Creek fire because of very hot and dry conditions.

“We would likely see more fire behaviour (at Yearling) than ideal (if planned ignitions were lit),” said McKay.  “We’ve decided to postpone for a day or two until the weather conditions are in our favour.”

On the Horsethief Creek fire wildfire crews working to create an equipment line and pursue direct fire attack options at the bottom of the Bruce Creek drainage.

“They were having very good success down in there. The fire behaviour down in there has been minimal in the last few days, and that’s given us the opportunity to get down in there and do some close direct attack type options,” said McKay. “We also had crews up in the alpine today. They would be working on the spread (of the fire) that we saw from yesterday. We were able to get on it early with (helicopter) buckets. We followed up with crew support. They (the crews) were working direct attack on the top of the ridge.”

This would have been visible from Panorama Mountain Resort, explained MacKay.

“We’re going to continue with those efforts into tomorrow and the next day until we’re feeling comfortable that we have taken care of that activity, and then we’ll be looking to move lower down into the Horsethief drainage,” he said.