Slight reprieve for Peace region firefighters

Calmer winds and milder weather give firefighters a slight reprieve in the North Peace region.

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Darkened tress below a smoky sky, with blue sky and the sun poking out above.
Smoke from the Stoddart Creek Wildfire. (file)

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Calmer winds and milder weather give firefighters a slight reprieve in the North Peace region.

According to the BCWS, more seasonably average temperatures are expected in the area Wednesday, giving firefighters a bit of a reprieve from the high temperatures from the last week.

The region continues to experience hot and dry conditions, which are expected to continue into Thursday, along with some winds. The fire service does not expect the winds to reach the rate of speed seen earlier this week.

Fire behaviour in the North Peace region is still wind driven, with growth depending on the direction the wind is pushing the fire.

Crews have been placed strategically based on the direction of winds to stifle the growth of the fires and make progress on certain areas or to completely avoid hazardous areas.

The BCWS expects fire growth towards the northeast driven by the winds on Wednesday and Thursday, and on Friday, with a wind shift, growth is expected toward the northwest.

According to the BCWS, an issue crews have been facing in the North Peace Complex is areas with cured grass and heavy spruce causing aggressive fire behaviour. Areas with more conifer trees slow fire spread.

Visibility is still low on-site of fires in the North Peace region due to the heavy smoke, which is expected to clear later Wednesday afternoon.

The North Peace Complex, which includes the Stoddart Creek, Red Creek and Boundary Lake wildfires, has 484 personnel in Fort St. John.

That number includes just over 300 firefighters, 45 personnel in the incident management team, over 130 structure personnel, 21 pieces of heavy equipment and 20 helicopters.

The Stoddart Creek wildfire is now estimated at approximately 21,455 hectares. The decrease from Tuesday, when the fire was 23,500 hectares, results from crews having more visibility in the area to better understand where the fire perimeters are.

There are 67 firefighters working on the Stoddark Creek wildfire on Wednesday as well as structure protection personnel still working in the area.

Overnight, 48 firefighters are working on the fire, which will continue in the coming days as required.

Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, crews worked on construction and control lines along the southwest and southeast flank, where they could safely access the fire.

Crews also continue to work with structure protection personnel to establish and maintain containment lines along the main corridor of Highway 97.

On Tuesday, crews completed a critical planned ignition that secured the Highway 97 corridor adjacent to the Beatton Airport Road, which removed 80 hectares of unburnt fuel.

According to the BCWS, they used aerial and hand ignitions to secure that portion of the highway.

A kilometre south of the Stoddart Creek wildfire, the Red Creek wildfire stayed in its containment lines and showed no growth, remaining at 2,947 hectares.

The fire is still classified as out of control, and 65 firefighters remain on site to maintain the containment lines and put water on the fire’s edge so it does not spread any further.

The evacuation alerts in Fort St. John and Taylor were rescinded Wednesday morning, and others across the regional district have changed. For information on alerts and orders, visit the Peace River Regional District’s website.

All open fires will be prohibited across the Prince George Fire Centre starting Friday at noon.

For the latest information on wildfires across the province, visit BCWS’ website.

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