Steep terrain and underground fires hinder containment of Green Mountain wildfire
'There's a lot of conifer around here, which obviously ignites easily'
The steep terrain, high winds, tinder dry conditions and deep root systems have made life difficult for crews fighting the Green Mountain wildfire, roughly 25 kilometres southeast of Quesnel, B.C.
Officials believe dry lightning sparked this 520 hectare fire. Despite aerial attacks and ground crews, the forest fire remains only 60 per cent contained.
Jordan Mack and his crew are part of the 140 fire rangers from Ontario helping B.C. fight the fires.
"It's very challenging. The fire can hide underground and you can't see it at first sight a lot of the time," said Mack.
He says his fire axe is one way to check the root system for fires.
The <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Quesnel?src=hash">#Quesnel</a> base camp has roughly 300 people here. It's a mini-city with power and washrooms. But most people tent. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/bcwildfires?src=hash">#bcwildfires</a> <a href="https://t.co/ntUnkdc27H">pic.twitter.com/ntUnkdc27H</a>—@wilfundal
But Mack says he and his crew are often on their hands and knees checking the ground.
"If you smell smoke, you kind of know something's [underground]. Another technique we have is feeling the hot spots. It's a slow, slow process."
Mack says the British Columbia backcountry is challenging.
"We're not used to this kind of terrain back in Ontario. Another thing is the fuel type. There's a lot of conifer around here, which obviously ignites easily," said Mack.
Water is also a precious commodity at this site, and Tyler Arntsen makes roughly 12 round trips to a nearby lake.
He drives through resource roads — half an hour each way — just to fill up his 3,249-litre water truck
"I [use] water from Sardine Lake and bring it to the bladder," said Arntsen. "So, they have water to soak everything down — all the hot spots."
André Anna Sullivan says she's focusing on her work before she has to go back to Ontario.
"From time to time, it comes to my mind, like why we're doing this, like there are communities in the area, and we're hopefully making a difference," said Sullivan.
She's hopeful the weather cooperates.
"If it doesn't, we'll have to start all over again."
For more stories from northern B.C., see Daybreak North.