A column of smoke rises over the North Thompson River as the Dunn Lake fire moves nortwards towards East Blackpool late Saturday afternoon.

BREAKING: Upper Clearwater under evacuation alert

Cold front not as strong as forecast - but still creates problem

UPDATE: Parts of upper Clearwater have been placed on an evacuation alert.

That’s according to the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, for the following properties:

  • 815, 824 Birch Dr
  • 6704, 6705, 6740 Boundary Rd
  • 1080, 1120, 1140 Candle Creek Rd
  • 252 Clearwater Airport Access Rd
  • 1528 to 6664 Clearwater Valley Rd
  • 6288, 6532, 6584 Corral Rd
  • 600 to 644 Grouse Creek Rd
  • 600 to 612 Moul Creek Rd
  • 440 Nakiska Rd
  • 5944 to 6177 Trout Creek Rd
  • 1197 Barber Rd

Winds predicted for Saturday afternoon and evening didn’t turn out to be quite as strong as predicted but the forest fire situation in the Little Fort to Clearwater area is still serious.

“I wouldn’t say we dodged the bullet,” said Jed Cochrane, the incident commander for the Dunn Lake (706) and Thuya Lake (675) fires.

“It could’ve been worse but it stayed on the east side of the river. That’s not the best place but it is a better place for it,” he said.

“It’s still a challenge for us, there is no doubt.”

The predicted winds resulted in the area north from Hallamore Lake, East Blackpool plus the small portion of Clearwater around the ski hill and along Dunn Lake Road being evacuated. Hallamore Lake and Dunn Lake had been evacuated earlier.

The remainder of District of Clearwater plus Blackpool were put on evacuation alert.

During the night the fire advanced northwards about two kilometers, said Cochrane. As of Sunday morning the leading edge of the blaze was at the junction of Auldgirth Road and Dunn Lake Road.

That places it at about 12 km from the centre of Clearwater but north of farms on Auldgirth Road. Cochrane said he was not aware of any structures being lost at this time.

Predicting when, where and how strong a cold front will be is notoriously difficult, the incident commander said.

A few days before the event, Environment Canada had been predicting wind gusts of up to 70 km/hr at some locations across the Interior.

The last forecast they had was for sustained winds of 20 km/hr with gusts of up to 40 km/hr.

As it was, the highest measured gusts were up into the 30s.

Battling the Dunn Lake fire presents many challenges, due to poor access, high elevation and steep terrain.

Priority until last Saturday’s wind incident has been on the south end of the fire.

With the cold front predicted to bring winds from the south, that changed and air tanker drops were used to try to control the fire’s spread.

When that didn’t work, the drops were switched to protecting property being threatened.

Cochrane noted here that those people who stayed to save their livestock and buildings actually made it more difficult for the air tanker crews, as they will not drop retardant onto a location where they know people are.

“They’re not helping themselves in that situation,” he said.

With cooler weather on Sunday, the Dunn Lake fire does not appear to be moving much.

However, that could change if the weather changes again, the incident commander said.

Thuya Lake fire has top priority

The Dunn Lake fire northeast of Little Fort and the Thuya Lake fire to the southwest of that community are being treated as one fire complex, said Cochrane.

The Thuya Lake fire is getting the top priority because of the threat it presents to the power-line that services the upper North Thompson Valley.

It is also a threat to Highway 5, which is now the main transportation artery for many evacuees.

Despite the winds, crews were able to access the fire and put up guards to protect the power-line and highway.

As of Sunday there were 233 personnel involved in fighting the two fires. Of these about 200 were actual firefighters while the remainder were support staff, including the incident management team, caterers, camp maintenance, and so on. Locals make up about 50 per cent of those working, including ground team, heavy equipment operators and support staff.

Cochrane is part of an incident management team sent to B.C. by Parks Canada.

Seven members of the team are from the Rocky Mountain parks, including Cochrane, who is from Invermere.

Others come from Wood Buffalo National Park, Prince Albert National Park, Prince Edward Island and Parks Canada’s national office.


Incident commander Jed Cochrane is on loan from Parks Canada. He has 22 years of firefighting experience.

Just Posted

Biomass heater construction begins

The new biomass heater will use wood-chips to provide heat to the Sportsplex, rather than propane

Kids asked to help find Larry the Strawberry

By Times Staff Buy-Low Foods has a special promotion happening for youngsters… Continue reading

Site C shows callous disregard for the taxpayer

It will take years for BC Hydro’s customer base to fully utilize Site C’s power

Freezing rain warning in effect for B.C. Southern Interior

Environment Canada issued the freezing rain warning for most of the Southern Interior Tuesday morning

PHOTO: YCS gives clock to mark 10th anniversary

District of Clearwater receives large clock from Yellowhead Community Services

VIDEO: Orcas put on a show near Hornby Island

Louis Jobodin shares photos and video of his experience

Premier offers condolences to family of boy, 15, killed in Vancouver crossfire

John Horgan: ‘No stone is to be left unturned until we find the perpetrator of this heinous crime’

VIDEO: Explorers uncover Canada’s deepest cave in Fernie

The cave, named Bisaro Anima, was confirmed to have broken the record on New Year’s Day

Players sought for National Aboriginal Hockey Championships

ISPARC calls for bantam/midget players to register for selection camp in Kamloops

New funding opens for industry innovation

Northern Development Initiative Trust opened new funds, focused on areas impacted by the pine beetle

Vernon to host largest Special Olympics B.C. Winter Games in 2019

Games to be held Feb. 21-23, with more than 800 athletes expected to take part

Ex-BC Liberal staffer focused on ‘favourable’ ethnic communities in scandal: lawyer

Former communications director Brian Bonney’s sentencing hearing for breach of trust is underway

Kamloops Mounties investigate reported home invasion in Dallas home

Kamloops Mounties were called to the home just after midnight after reports of people yelling and kicking in a door

Sunwing vacation passengers left at Abbotsford airport

YXX staffers receive praise for help to passengers; airline criticized

Most Read