British Columbia

B.C. storm helps firefighters contain wildfires

The wet weather hitting B.C. may have cut power for tens of thousands of people, but it has had some benefits.

Rain and cool temperatures aid firefighters tackling Stickpin wildfire threatening Grand Forks, Christina Lake

Recent rain is good news for B.C. firefighters on the front lines of a number of serious wildfires. (Courtesy Dana Hicks)

The storm hitting hitting British Columbia may have cut power for tens of thousands of customers, but it has had some benefits — helping firefighters trying to contain wildfires across the province and in the U.S.

On Sunday, firefighters made significant gains on the Stickpin wildfire, currently burning in Washington state, five kilometres south of the Canadian border.

"Crews have been making great progress towards constructing guards and tying into existing roadways," said the B.C. Wildfire Service, Monday at 7:20 a.m. PT.

"Firefighters will continue to take advantage of cooler temperatures and precipitation in order to continue with containment." 

The Stickpin fire covers 21,638 hectares and is now 20 per cent contained, according to the service, a slight improvement from a few days ago.

Evacuation alerts were lifted on Sunday for more than 1,000 residents in Grand Forks and Christina Lake, the two B.C. communities previously under threat of ember showers from the Stickpin wildfire.

The Stickpin wildfire is part of a larger group of fires burning in the same area, called the Kettle complex, which overall received up to five millimetres of rain on Sunday. 

"The rain and the higher humidity have both contributed to slow the spread of the fires," said the U.S. Incident Information System's latest update, as of Monday morning.

"However, the fire area has not received enough moisture to penetrate the larger fuels, and in some cases, the rain has not yet penetrated the forest canopy."

Testlinden Creek wildfire dampened

According to the B.C. Wildfire Service, cooler temperatures, rain and calmer winds at the weekend also impacted the Testalinden Creek wildfire, burning just six kilometres south of Oliver, B.C.

An evacuation order was lifted Sunday for the Testalinden Creek fire, but alerts covering 180 homes are still in place. (B.C. Wildfire Service)

"The fire was stable overnight and did not see significant growth. The north flank of the fire received approximately three millimetres of rain today and overnight," said the service's latest update as of Sunday, 9:31 p.m. PT.

The Testalinden Creek wildfire covers 4,295 hectares but is now 60 per cent contained. Wind is still affecting some areas of the fire, causing some smoke — with open flames visible from Oliver and along Highway 97.

A previous evacuation order for some residents in the area was rescinded on Sunday, but an evacuation alert covering 180 homes north of Testalinden Creek and west of Oliver is still in place.

Campfire bans rescinded

Campfire bans have now been rescinded across the province, with the exception of the Cariboo Fire Centre, where campfires are only being permitted east of the Fraser River.

Open fires remained under restrictions in the Coastal, Kamloops, Southeast and Cariboo Fire Centres, but are permitted in the Northwest and Prince George centres.

Forest use remains permitted in all areas except the Southeast Fire Centre, where certain public access has been restricted to protect firefighters and the public as wildfires continue to burn.

There are currently 89 active fires of note — fires larger than 10 hectares — burning in B.C.

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