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October 28, 2017 4:11 am

Little Bobtail Fire Fight Carries On – Update

Saturday, May 23, 2015 @ 4:01 AM
Little Bobtail Lake fire continues to burn southwest of Prince George.  Photo courtesy Wildfire Management Branch

Little Bobtail Lake fire continues to burn southwest of Prince George. Photo courtesy Wildfire Management Branch

Prince George, B.C. – It’s two weeks now since the Little Bobtail Lake fire broke out southwest of Prince George near Norman Lake.  At the time it covered 10 hectares.

Fourteen days later and 25,000 hectares of land, scrub and forest have been charred by a fire which has taxed firefighting resources, both human and material, quite heavily.  To date no structures have been lost.  Significant progress has been made in the past two days and the fire is now described as 80% contained.  However, with mid-20 temperatures and possible thunderstorms in the forecast crews are maintaining a vigilant watch over the weekend.

Wildfire Management Branch Fire Information Officer Melissa Klassen has been stationed on site at a camp on the Bobtail Forest Service Road, north of Highway 16.  She says crews have conducted burn-off operations on the eastern flank to burn leftover fuel between the fire’s edge and the established guard.  With guards set up along several areas of the fire crews are conducting mop-up along 50 feet of the fire perimeter, applying water to open flame and digging up hot spots.

Klassen says “we haven’t had that much fire growth over the last couple of days and that is due to the containment efforts.”  She adds “we still have 9 helicopters that are assigned to this fire.  Some of those are bucketing helicopters while others serve administrative purposes.  We still have access to more than 6 airtankers  at the Prince George airtanker base.”  However they were not utilized on Friday.  There are also 330 firefighters and 37 pieces of heavy equipment fighting the fire.

Klassen says “things are coming along really well with the fire, partly because there’s been lighter winds and a bit cooler temperatures in the mornings.  We are seeing some warm temperatures in the afternoon but there’s not those gusts of wind that we were experiencing a couple of days ago when we experienced most of the growth.

Klassen says a close watch is being kept on thunderstorm activity.  “We are responding to an increase in fire starts that are lightning-caused and human-caused and over the last couple of days we’ve had conductive activity overhead this fire, some of which came with lightning.  So we’re starting to see the potential for those naturally occurring wildfires to start.  And obviously there are a couple of fires within the province that we already have a lot of resources on.”

“So it’s just that message, that reminder to the public that in responding to these fires as well as the potential for naturally occurring fires that we really don’t have the resources available to respond to preventable fires.”

Klassen also notes that “within the Prince George Fire Centre the danger rating is pretty substantial, it’s ranging from high to extreme, with a huge extreme pocket covering the northern end.  That’s a concern, in the month of May seeing that extreme risk.”

Klassen also cautions that public that “the Little Bobtail Fire is still an active fire and even though we are establishing more containment on a day-to-day basis, its still a workspace of ours and therefore we are responsible for the safety of whoever is there.  There has been an issue of people coming in and out of (evacuation) alert/order areas, and we would like to remind the public that it is restricted space.  Those roads or side roads or other access ways going into those areas, while the locals may know them, they are primarily being used right now for operational purposes and are also used for escape routes for our crews.”

“So a reminder we do have security check points set up to make sure that we reduce the traffic going in and out to keep the safety of our crews but also to keep the safety of anyone at our work site.”

Meantime Fire Information Officer Jordan Turner says the Klua Lakes fire up in the northeast corner of BC continues to burn 14 kilometres east of the Alaska Highway and the community of Prophet River, and 80 kilometres south of Fort Nelson.  He says “the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality has issued an evacuation alert for the Prophet River community and surrounding area, affecting roughly 125 people.”

Turner says the fire, which now covers about 1,400 hectares, was reported Thursday afternoon and is believed to have been caused by lightning.  He says airtankers and ground crews have responded to that fire, with an Incident Management team on site this morning.

Again Turner notes that the northeastern corner of the province is experiencing an extreme fire danger rating.


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