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Skeetchestn Indian Band said good progress made fighting blaze, as crews from band, BCWS work together

Good progress on Sparks

UPDATE: 10:26 p.m.

The Skeetchestn Indian Band said this week has seen a “strengthening partnership” with the BC Wildfire Service, as firefighting personnel from both groups make good progress fighting the blaze.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Skeetchestn Indian Band said over 75 Skeetchestn members, staff and settler neighbours are working together with the BC Wildfire Service crews to control the fire and protect structures.

“We believe this First Nations-led, locally informed fire response based in mutual care and cooperation must be a model for successful emergency management in the future,” the band said.

According to the statement, the fire is being held above the east side of Deadman Valley.

The Skeetchestn band said teams have secured 94 structures on 86 properties by clearing potential ignition sources and installing rooftop sprinklers. They have also focused on protecting infrastructure serving the area.

Skeetchestn Fire Watchers are working to spot, map and order action on the fire.

“BCWS is providing air support to the Fire Watchers, and BCWS unit crews are on the ground reducing fuel and maintaining lines,” the band said.

“The combination of traditional knowledge and western practices has been key to fighting this fire and will remain at the heart of our response.”

Skeetchestn Indian Band said the majority of community members have been evacuated to safety.

On Tuesday, the BC Wildfire Service said a controlled burn had been conducted in an area west of Red Lake and around Carabine Hill.

“This ignition went as scheduled, achieving the desired results,” the wildfire service said.

The goal of the controlled burn was to remove available fuel between the fire’s edge and fuel-free guard.

As part of the operation, BC Wildfire Service warned that increased smoke would be highly visible to surrounding communities.

A guard has been completed from Sedge Lake, around Carabine Hill, and to Red Lake, Cayuse Lake and Frog Lake.

The BC Wildfire Service said the guard is now being extended to Garbison Lake.

The fire remains at 39,251 hectares, and is still classified as out of control.


UPDATE: 3:25 p.m.

Favourable weather is allowing fire crews working a massive blaze threatening hundreds of homes northwest of Kamloops to make good progress.

That was the word Tuesday from Dennis Rexin, the BC Wildfire Service’s incident commander in charge of the fight against the Sparks Lake fire.

The Sparks Lake fire covers an estimated 39,251 hectares about 35 kilometres northwest of Kamloops. It was discovered June 28 in the Red Lake area.

On Tuesday afternoon, Rexin said, crews are conducting small-scale controlled burns — creating “low-intensity” fires, he said, to burn off fuel.

“Prior to this we had a really good look at our weather forecasts … to make sure the conditions were right [for controlled burns],” he said.

“We believe they are now.”

Rexin said some of the orders restricting access to certain areas due to the Sparks Lake fire could be lifted in the coming days.

As of Tuesday afternoon, according to the BC Wildfire Service, the Sparks Lake blaze has 170 properties on evacuation order and more than 700 more on alert.

This story will be updated as more information becomes known.


ORIGINAL STORY: 9:37 a.m.

Officials are reporting no growth overnight on the massive Sparks Lake wildfire, with is threatening hundreds of homes northwest of Kamloops.

According to the BC Wildfire Service, Monday's cooler temperatures have reduced fire behaviour and allowed crews to focus on constructing guards.

As of Tuesday morning, the blaze is an estimated 39,251 hectares in size.

The Sparks Lake fire is located about 35 kilometres northwest of Kamloops. It was discovered on June 28 in the Red Lake area.

The fire is the largest currently burning in B.C. Because of the blaze, 170 properties have been evacuated and more than 700 others are on evacuation alert, according to the BC Wildfire Service.

The Sparks Lake wildfire is still classified as out of control. As of Tuesday morning, the BC Wildfire Service is reporting 138 firefighters, 16 helicopters and 33 pieces of heavy equipment on site.

Castanet Kamloops will monitor information about the Sparks Lake fire throughout the day and update this story when more becomes known.



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