Steep terrain and underground fires hinder containment of Green Mountain wildfire

The Green Mountain wildfire, southeast of Quesnel, B.C., has already burned 520 hectares of forest. But crews are having a hard time containing it.

'There's a lot of conifer around here, which obviously ignites easily'

The wildfire has already burned 250 hectares. 1:51

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. 

Ontario fire ranger Jordan Mack walks through the wildfire remains. (Wil Fundal/CBC News)

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. 

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. 

The conditions are so dry that when the fire started, it spread quickly. (Wil Fundal/CBC News)

"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." 

Ontario fire rangers André Anna Sullivan and Jayme Martel point to a map of the Green Mountain wildfire. (Wil Fundal/CBC News)

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

A single cottonwood tree stands after a wildfire. (Wil Fundal/CBC News)

About the Author

Wil Fundal


Wil Fundal is an award winning News and Current Affairs multimedia journalist in northern B.C. When he's not digging into a story, he sings as a tenor, and participates in community theatre productions.