Heavy rain cools off fire situation

“If it hadn't rained, we would have been in big trouble.”

A weekend of heavy rain had staff at Clearwater Fire Zone calling for an end to a campfire ban afterwards. The ban was to be lifted as early as Wednesday, said Jim Jones, fire zone manager.

“If it hadn’t rained, we would have been in big trouble,” he said. “We are the luck ones … the only ones. The rest of the Kamloops Fire Center is still dry.”

Jones asked that, even if the campfire ban is lifted for the Clearwater Fire Zone, people still be careful with fire.

Firefighting resources across the province are stretched to the limit at this time, he said.

According to Jones, the Forest Service weather station in Clearwater registered 19.4 mm of rain over the weekend.

Coldscaur Lake northwest of Clearwater got 34.6 mm, Blue River got 22 mm, Wells Gray Park (at the juncture of Clearwater and Azure lakes) got 32 mm, and Harbor Lakes (north of Adams Lake) got 43 mm.

There was extensive lightning Saturday night but the only fire it was known to start was near 10 km on Road 1 northwest of Clearwater.

There, lightning struck a Douglas fir located in a cut-block with a lot of timber already down on the ground. If the wood had been as dry as it had been just a few days earlier, the situation would have been much more serious, he said.

As it was, an excavator quickly put a guard around the fire and a crew put the fire out.

The rain also helped with the Pyramid Fire, which is located about 35 km north of Blue River in the Serpentine drainage.

At 22 ha in size, about half the fire was on terrain too steep to fight.

The fire now appears to be cold, except for some smokers below where the obvious fire was.

“We’ll need to watch those,” Jones said.

Fire 235 in the North Blue drainage also got drowned over the weekend.

According to a rain gauge on the site, it received 33 mm of rain over the weekend.

It was estimated at 66 ha in size but is probably closer to 80, the zone manager said.

As of Monday there was a 25-person contract crew on the site, plus a forest officer.

Previously, there had been a Forest Service unit crew, a medium plus a light helicopter, and a faller there as well.