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UPDATE: Weasel Creek wildfire to be removed from Wildfires of Note

(UPDATE: Aug. 31 @ 2:06 pm) - The Weasel Creek wildfire that was discovered on the Canada-US border back on July 30, will be taken off the wildfires of note list effective tomorrow.

Recent showers and lingering low-level moisture have been extremely helpful in supporting overnight recoveries and suppression efforts.

While there will be no further updates provided by the BCWS, area restrictions remain in place for many places nearby including the Butts Cabin Recreation Site, Frozen Lake and Howell Creek.

</who>Photo credit: BCWS | Burned replanted block within the Weasel Creek fire perimeter

“BCWS would like to remind everyone that this area remains an active worksite. Crews, heavy equipment and aircraft continue to work on this fire and a camp is in place up the Flathead Valley,” said a release from BCWS.

“This means there is an increase in traffic along the Forest Service Roads outside of the restricted area, including larger slow-moving service vehicles. Please follow all Forest Service Road rules, including monitoring the appropriate Resource Road (RR) channels, calling your kilometres, and driving at safe speeds.”

Since the last update, the fire remains at an estimated 1,088 hectares with 61 firefighters, one helicopter, and five pieces of heavy equipment assisting fire fighting crews.

Drone infrared scanning on priority areas will wrap up tonight, and crews will demobilize gear when objectives have been met.

Certified Danger Tree Fallers and Assessors have also provided learning opportunities while on site to crew members who are preparing for certification.

Hunting is currently not allowed within the area restriction and will be reviewed when it is safe to do so.

Members of the public are encouraged to check the BCWS Fire Bans and Restrictions webpage for the latest updates on area restrictions, here.

(UPDATE: Aug. 27 @ 1:45 pm) – Recent rainfall has helped firefighting efforts on the Weasel Creek wildfire in the East Kootenays.

The fire received five to 10 millimetres of rain overnight Friday and it is expected to receive the same amount Saturday.

As one of the last wildfires of note in the province, the BC Wildfire Service reminds residents to observe area restrictions and any remaining active worksites on fires across BC.

As of Saturday the fire located west of Frozen Lake and southeast of Baynes Lake is estimated at 1,088 hectares on the Canadian side of the border.

This is down from the previous estimate of 1,177 hectares.

<who> Photo Credit: BCWS

Crews in the northwest continue to mop up and patrol up to 100 feet when safe.

The BCWS says 100% of the northeast corner has been scanned which will allow ground crews to accurately target hot spots and mop up.

“Crews continue to establish a 50-foot black line on the east flank from Frozen Creek to the border and suppress any spots found outside the perimeter,” explains the BCWS.

“With the use of infrared scans crews will locate and extinguish hotspots up to 100 feet into the perimeter.”

There are 66 firefighters, nine pieces of heavy equipment and five helicopters on site.

(UPDATE: Aug. 23 @ 12:55 pm) – More accurate mapping on the Weasel Creek wildfire shows the fire is actually about 20 hectares smaller than originally recorded.

The BC Wildfire Service says it now sits at about 1,177 hectares on the Canadian side of the border.

In an update provided Tuesday morning, the BCWS says the fire continues to move west and most of the fire activity is in the western flank.

“Fire activity in this area is predominantly rank 2, low vigour surface fire with open flame and an unorganized flame front and small pockets of rank 3 with the occasional tree candling,” explains the BCWS.

“Air tankers have been utilized to lay retardant lines along the northwest ridge line above the area where the growth occurred.”

<who> Photo Credit: BCWS

The fire retardant helped crews as they worked to prevent the fire from making a run north.

Crews are focusing their efforts on advancing a 50 foot black ling up to 100 feet along the northeast and eastern flanks to prevent growth into the Flathead Valley.

There are 79 firefighters on site with the support of 14 pieces of heavy equipment and six helicopters.

Crews finished setting up a new camp Monday afternoon so they can be closer to the fire which sparked west of Frozen Lake and southeast of Baynes Lake.

The BCWS explains that this will not only allow longer days working on the fire, it will actually allow crews more rest time in the evenings.

“Setting up a remote camp requires time and effort to get temporary services set up on site. This includes water access, septic, fuel, generator run power, communications (internet and cell service) and food,” says the agency.

(UPDATE: Aug. 19 @ 11:52 pm) - The Weasel Creek wildfire straddling the US and Canadian border has seen minimal growth since its last update.

On Aug. 17, fire activity increased in the afternoon on the northwestern portion of the fire where vigorous fire behaviour contributed to growth moving west up the Couldrey drainage.

This growth has not impacted the northeastern tip of the fire perimeter where crews have been strengthening containment lines over the last few days.

The fire, southeast of Baynes Lake and west of Frozen Lake, sits at an estimated 1,196 hectares on the Canadian side.

Airtankers have been laying retardant lines along the ridge above where the fire slopped over, which has helped prevent the fire from moving upslope.

</who>Photo credit: BCWS

Planning and implementation of small-scale ignition operations remain ongoing, and heavy equipment has begun tightening the eastern fire perimeter.

BC Wildfire Service personnel will be assessing priority actions, objectives and values in advance of the expected fire growth in the Flathead area, and the structure protection specialist will be assessing the requirements for the area.

An area restriction has been expanded for this incident in order to protect the public in areas where ongoing aggressive fire behaviour is occurring.

“This Area Restriction reflects the continued need to protect the public due to extremely aggressive fire behaviour that will persist into the weekend and in areas where ongoing fire operations are taking place,” reported BCWS in its latest release.

“We are anticipating significant growth on the northeast flank of this fire over the coming days.”

There are currently 54 firefighters on scene, 13 helicopters and seven pieces of heavy equipment battling the blaze on the Canadian side.

Jurisdictional collaboration is continuing between the Incident Management Team (IMT) in the United States located in Eureka and the BC Wildfire Service Incident Management Team in Canada located in Elko.

(UPDATE: Aug. 14 @ 2 pm) – Fortunately, strong winds forecast for Saturday did not impact crews working on the Weasel Creek wildfire over the weekend.

The fire, southeast of Baynes Lake and west of Frozen Lake, remains estimated at 1,087 hectares.

On Sunday, an Alberta crew will be joining BC Wildfire Service crews assigned to this fire.

<who> Photo Credit: BCWS

“Local winds on site yesterday were not as extreme as forecasted, and did not challenge crews as much as we had prepared for,” explained an update provided Sunday morning.

“This gave crews the opportunity yesterday to gain some containment in the northeast flank of the fire.”

If conditions remain favourable, crews will be conducting small-scale ignitions on the northeast flank over the coming days.

Crews will continue to action any spot fires that have occurred.

On Sunday, there are 20 BCWS crews, the Alberta crew, three helicopters and two pieces of heavy equipment on site.

(UPDATE: Aug. 11 @ 11:40 am) - There has been significant growth on the Canadian side of the Weasel Creek wildfire.

The fire, which is straddling the 49th parallel, is now estimated at 1,087 hectares north of the border.

The BC Wildfire Service did not provide a total size of the fire in its latest update.

<who>Photo Credit: BCWS

"We are expecting to see aggressive fire behaviour in the coming days and into the weekend as the temperatures increase," explained the BCWS. "Expected fire growth is primarily towards the east and northeast."

Jurisdictional collaboration continues between crews in Canada and the United States.

The fire was originally discovered on US soil on July 30 and spread into Canada on Aug. 4.

A structure protection specialist assigned to the Connell Ridge wildfire continues to assess the need for any structural protection resources around the Weasel Creek blaze.

An area restriction remains in effect to protect the public in areas where aggressive fire behaviour is occurring.

(UPDATE: Aug. 9 @ 1:05 pm) - A fire that crossed into Canada from the United States last Thursday continues to show growth.

According to the BC Wildfire Service, the 648 hectares of the Weasel Creek wildfire are now burning on Canadian soil, up from 526 hectares on Monday.

The fire as a whole, on both sides of the border, is estimated at 1,241 hectares.

Canadian and American crews are collaborating on efforts to control the blaze and resources are being shared as required.

<who>Photo Credit: BC Wildfire Service</who>The Weasel Creek wildfire

The Weasel Creek wildfire currently shares an Incident Management Team with the Connell Ridge wildfire and that includes a structure protection specialist who is assessing the need for resources around the border.

For now, the Weasel Creek wildfire is still not considered an interface fire.

The Connell Ridge wildfire is currently estimated at 1,350 hectares in size, while the Cummings Creek wildfire near Sparwood is sitting at 44 hectares.

(UPDATE: Aug. 8 @ 11:20 am) – In the latest updates from the BC Wildfire Service, two wildfires located in the Southeast Fire Center have experienced mild growth since Sunday.

The Cummings Creek wildfire, located west of Sparwood, has grown to an estimated 43 hectares. This is up from the estimated 13 ha reported over the weekend.

Although this fire is not considered an interface, a BCWS structure protection specialist and the Sparwood fire chief are working together to create a plan for structure protection.

Residents in the area may notice an increase in fire apparatus over the coming days.

“Currently the community of Sparwood is not imminently threatened, however we want to give our structure protection personnel ample time to deploy structure protection apparatus in the event of the fire progressing closer to the community,” explains the BCWS.

Due to the remote location and lack of access for helicopters, crews continue to monitor this fire.

The Weasel Creek wildfire, located about 39 kilometers southeast of Baynes Lake, is estimated at 1,028 ha.

According to the BCWS, this wildfire started in Montana at the end of July and crossed the border on Aug. 4.

Of this total amount, 526 ha are located on the Canadian side of the border.

On Sunday, there was 482 ha on the Canadian side.

The incident management team assigned to the Connell Ridge wildfire, south of Cranbrook, is working with the team located in the US.

Similar to the Cummings Creek wildfire, this is not considered an interface fire.

Crews on both sides of the border continue to monitor the incident as structure protection personnel assess the area.

(Original story: Aug. 7 @ 9:33 am) – Two new wildfires started in the Southeast Fire Centre this past week.

The Cummings Creek wildfire was discovered on Wednesday, Aug. 3 and is located about five kilometres west of the town of Sparwood.

According to the BC Wildfire Service, this fire was started by lightning and is currently estimated at 13 hectares.

Fortunately, it is not considered an interface fire.

“The fire is currently burning in extremely steep, inoperable terrain where it is unsafe for crews or equipment to work on suppression activities. Operations staff are observing the fire daily,” explain the agency.

The BCWS is working closely with local fire departments and the Regional District to monitor this wildfire.

An Incident Management team assigned to the Connell Ridge fire, south of Cranbrook, has taken over control of this incident.

They have also taken over control of the Weasel Creek wildfire which was discovered on Thursday, Aug. 4 after it crossed the Canada-US border.

This fire is burning about 39 kilometres southeast of the community of Baynes Lake.

“Approximately 482 of the total 965 hectares is burning on the Canadian side of the border,” explains the BCWS.

This fire is not considered to be an interface fire. It was started by lightning.

According to the agency, the Incident Management Team is working closely with the team down in Eureka, Montana to establish a response plan.

The structure protection specialist assigned to the Connell Ridge wildfire is assessing the need for any structural protection response in the area.

<who> Photo Credit: BCWS

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