An out-of-control wildfire burning northeast of Oliver is proving looks can be deceiving, as BC Wildfire Service crews continue to battle the 2,632-hectare blaze.
Rain throughout the week has, according to operations section chief Andre Chalabi, slowed down the fire growth and stifled a lot of the smoke, but that doesn’t mean the fight is over.
"When a fire runs through the surface, it also gets embedded into the lower layers of the ground, and it will continue burning," he explained.
Crew members are working well over 12 hours a day mopping up areas hit by the flames, digging beneath the ground in search of hotspots and dousing them.
Planned ignitions have been a big part of fighting the fire, said Chalabi, and can be set by air or on the ground.
It “stops the fire on our terms,” he said. “We create them … and place them in areas we know we have a better chance of stopping a fire. We utilize topography.”
Topography, though, has been a challenge for many of the crew members, who often times have to hike steep terrain to run hoses and set up large bladders – which can hold up to nearly 5,700 litres of water.
When the blaze sparked on Aug. 4, over 300 firefighters – many coming from across the province – were rushed to Oliver, where a base camp has been set up at the airport.
Now, since the evacuation alerts have been rescinded, some crew members have been sent home, but 147 are still working throughout the day and 47 through the night.
If dryer weather hits, smoke could once again be in the forecast, but fire information officer Shannon Street said part of the haze could be from planned ignitions, one of which is planned for today.
An area restriction order for Crown land has also been implemented by BC Wildfire Service, which will remain in place until noon on Aug. 30, or until otherwise noted.
The order restricts people from remaining in the Eagle Bluff vicinity unless with proper written authorization or unless travelling to or from their principle residence.