A BC Wildfire Service member conducts a hand-ignition burn south of Eagle Bluff. The fire is now estimated at 2,270 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
By Lyonel Doherty
BC Forestry crews are using night vision to fight the 2,270-hectare fire southeast of Oliver.
Fire Information Officer Shannon Street told the Oliver Chronicle that the BC Wildfire Service is conducting trials with this technology that allows aircraft to monitor the fire after dark.
“Normally we don’t fly at night for safety reasons,” she said, adding that infrared capabilities are helping them understand what the fire is doing overnight, which gives crews continued situational awareness.
This rotary wing night vision aids ground crews with their operations and detects any new spot fires in the area.
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Residents who hear or see aircraft flying near the fire after dark should not be alarmed.
Street said the fire is burning southeast of Oliver in the McKinney Creek area. Hand-ignition burns conducted on the south side of Eagle Bluff on Thursday were successful, and crews hope to schedule another burn today if conditions are favourable, she said. This burn is planned in an area north of McKinney Road and east of Manuel’s Canyon Road.
She noted that the hand-ignition burn south of Gallagher Lake two days ago was a great success. The day after the burn there was no smoke to be seen in Senkulmen Business Park. Street said there are still some smouldering spots on the bluff above Gallagher Lake.
There are approximately 180 firefighters working on the blaze, with 13 helicopters and 19 pieces of heavy equipment.
A section of the Oliver Airport is being utilized by forestry crews as a command centre, where many resources are stationed. This is where many firefighters are sleeping (in tents).
Street said a number of out-of-town fire departments are here acting as structural protection units. Their job is mainly precautionary in case they are needed for structure fires. She noted that some of these units are setting up sprinkler systems on properties in the McKinney area.
“No structures are in immediate danger (at this time),” Street said.
Evacuation alerts remain in effect for 41 properties in the McKinney Creek area and more than 200 in Area C.
Heading into the weekend, forestry crews are expecting to breathe a little easier as cooler temperatures are forecasted.
Many tents are set up at the Oliver Airport to accommodate forestry crews. (Photo by Lyonel Doherty)