Burnt branches like this one a Keremeos resident sent into the Review are falling to the valley bottom floor in and around Keremeos along with embers and hot ash. The embers are coming from the Snowy Mountain Fire burning about 12 kilometers south of Keremeos (submitted photo)

B.C. volunteer firefighters work night patrols as raging wildfire rains ash, embers

Keremeos firefighters say they will work night shifts as long as needed, patrolling the Snowy Mountain fire.

Volunteer firefighters in Keremeos are eager to help as the largest wildfire in the province rages about 12 kilometres south of the village.

Jordy Bosscha said three firefighters will be working night shifts 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. as long as needed, patrolling for spot fires.

“As a firefighter it’s always hard to sit and watch,” Bosscha told the Review Wednesday.

Since BC Wildfire asked for volunteers to help with the Initial Attack teams, Keremeos firefighters have been clamouring to signup. The three-person crews work with BC Wildfire, patrolling in opposite directions to cover more ground. If they see something, they radio it in right away, so wildfire crews can quickly douse the spot fires.

Related: Breaking: 865 properties on evacuation alert, Snowy Mountain fire doubles in size

“It’s good everyone is willing to help. Everyone is jumping in, fighting over taking a shift. There’s no shortage of people wanting to help out with this,” he said.

Embers, ashes and chunks of burning branches are falling from the nearby Snowy Mountain, which at the time of this posting was 6,155 hectares in size.

Significant fire growth occurred overnight Wednesday to the east and north sides of the fire.

Bosscha said the three-person crew patrolling Wednesday night into Thursday morning did not see any spot fires start down in the valley floor in or around Keremeos. Bosscha said some firefighters are working the night shift and going into their day jobs the next morning depending on where they work and if they are needed.

“There’s no doubt about it, they are dedicated to this community.”

Currently, 384 property parcels have been placed on alert within Keremeos and 481 properties in rural Keremeos and Cawston areas.

Some properties in the Lower Similkameen Indian Band are also under evacuation alert.

An Evacuation Order was issued for Cathedral Lakes Lodge, not because of the Snowy Mountain Fire, but due to the Placer Mountain wildfire. The Placer Mountain fire is burning about 36 kilometres southwest of Keremeos in high elevation and was listed at 2,336 hectares in size at the time of this posting.

The lodge was evacuated because of concerns there might not be road access.

Related: Breaking: Evacuation Order and State of Local Emergency issued for Placer Mountain fire

Bosscha, who is also the village’s public works manager, urged everyone not to panic, but be prepared.

“It’s precautionary the alert, It’s precautionary to give you the heads up to start thinking about the things you want to pack up and get ready to go just in the chance things go south on us,” he said.

He also suggested for everyone, in the evacuation alert or not, to take sometime and look around their homes and reduce the risk of fire.

“The biggest thing for me is the tall grassy fields, and cedar hedges are like a gallon of gas just sitting their waiting,” he said. “When I think back to the 2003 Kelowna fire that the biggest thing for me and with bark mulch it creeps underneath and then comes up 10 feet over and then creeps up somewhere else,” he said.

Public works crew for the village has been out patrolling public areas during the day this week looking for areas that might pose a risk and clearing potential fire hazards.

Bosscha noted in all his years, he hasn’t seen a fire quite like this in the Keremeos area.

“We’ve had a number of fires back behind the K (mountain) and back the Ashnola, plumes of smoke and ashes coming down, but nothing as close as this,” he said.

He said the department is always looking for volunteers and the five student firefighters graduated last year and there are openings for high school students.

Anyone interested can pickup an application at the village office anytime or the fire hall on Tuesdays from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. during weekly practice.

To report a typo, email:
editor@keremeosreview.com
.


@TaraBowieBC
editor@keremeosreview.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Location of Placer Mountain Fire and Snowy Mountain Fire on July 26, 2018. (screen grab BC Wildfire Service interactive map)

Just Posted

Latest round of Columbia River Treaty talks wrap up in Cranbrook

Federal, provincial, U.S. and Indigenous representatives recently met for eight round of discussions

First Nations given max compensation for Ottawa’s child-welfare discrimination

2016 ruling said feds didn’t give same funding for on-reserve kids as was given to off-reserve kids

Come run for Terry this Sunday

Terry Fox Run in Invermere raises funds for cancer research

Council rejects water bottling plant in current spot

Cites possibility to having facility built at another location in the village

Climate change website launched by Selkirk College and Columbia Basin Trust

The site features climate information for communities in the Columbia Basin and boundary region

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mayor details emergency response after fatal bus crash

Sharie Minions says she is ‘appalled’ by condition of road where bus crashed

Federal party leaders address gun violence after weekend shooting near Toronto

One teen was killed and five people injured in the shooting

Conservatives promise tax cut that they say will address Liberal increases

Scheer says the cut would apply to the lowest income bracket

B.C. VIEWS: Cutting wood waste produces some bleeding

Value-added industry slowly grows as big sawmills close

Fewer trees, higher costs blamed for devastating downturn in B.C. forestry

Some say the high cost of logs is the major cause of the industry’s decline in B.C.

Federal food safety watchdog says batch of baby formula recalled

The agency says it’s conducting a food safety investigation

UVic president offers condolences after two students killed in bus crash

‘We also grieve with those closest to these members of our campus community,’ Cassels says

Coming Home: B.C. fire chief and disaster dog return from hurricane-ravaged Bahamas

The pair spent roughly one week on Great Abaco Island assisting in relief efforts

Most Read