Winds sweeping across southeastern B.C. turned this Labour Day into a busy one for wildfire crews as they struggled to get several large blazes in the region under control.
The province is experiencing an unusually high level of fire activity for September, according to B.C. Wildfire Service spokesman Kevin Skrepnek.
"A long, sustained soaking of rain is what we need in this province right now, and until we get that, these fires are going to continue," he told CBC News.
Nearly 400 properties near Moyie Lake, southwest of Cranbrook, remained on evacuation order Monday because of the Lamb Creek wildfire. That fire grew to 1,400 hectares overnight, stretching southward by two kilometres on the west side of the lake.
According to the wildfire service, the combination of high winds, volatile fuel sources and difficult terrain have created a challenging situation for firefighters trying to bring that blaze under control.
'It was a crazy experience'
Photographer Drew Leiterman of Cranbook watched the fire from the opposite side of Moyie Lake in the early hours of Monday morning, and captured a time lapse video of the flames moving across the hillside.
"It was a crazy experience, because the fire was burning on the other side of the lake, and about every half an hour to an hour there would be these wolves...and they would just start howling. They sounded scared," Leiterman told CBC News.
"The fire itself was incredible to watch. The light it was emitting and the smoke that it was giving off was something that I'd never seen before."
At the same time, Leiterman said it was terrifying to think that a change in the weather could send the flames off in any direction, pushing the wildfire towards Cranbrook or across the lake.
"You try and stay calm and just know that you can do your best to try and stay safe," he said. "You know that it's just bringing destruction to the East Kootenay — and people's homes and people's livelihood."
There are no reports so far of structures being damaged by the blaze, according to the wildfire service.
To the northwest of Cranbrook, the St. Mary's River wildfire was holding at an estimated 398 hectares in size on Monday. An evacuation alert has been in place since Friday because of that blaze.
Further south, the Linklater Creek fire was still burning on both sides of the U.S. border. The 766-hectare portion on the Canadian side forced the evacuation of properties on the west side of Lake Koocanusa, including the small community of Newgate.