The Regional District of East Kootenay has expanded the Evacuation ALERT area near the Doctor Creek wildfire to the south, following a forecast of wind gusts of up to 80 km/h on Sunday.
The RDEK said the expanded area closely aligns with the Crown Land Area Restrictions already implemented by the BC Wildfire Service and does not include any residential properties. The expanded area includes the Buhl Creek Recreation Site, Doctor Creek Recreation Cabin and the Skookumchuck Forest Service Road.
The Evacuation ALERT for five properties and Evacuation ORDER for a further five properties around the Findlay Creek area is still in place.
According to the RDEK, the strong winds present a potential for increased behaviour and growth of the fire.
“Although there are no residential properties in this area and much of the access is closed due to the Area Restriction, we want to ensure recreationalists are aware of the potential for fire growth and are taking steps to be adequately prepared,” explained Loree Duczek, RDEK Information Officer.
Winds have posed challenges to firefighting efforts on the southeastern flank, where steep slopes and rocky outcrops are heavily exposed.
“Topographical features on the Doctor Creek wildfire align with winds in such a way that causes it to accelerate as it travels through the valley. As a result, wind speeds on-site are regularly higher than forecasted,” said the BC Wildfire Service.
The BC Wildfire Service said crews are working to extinguish hot spots and patrol the area within 100 feet of the perimeter along the northern flank of the fire.
“Fire behaviour on the southeast flank will be relatively lower over the next few days as parts of the area received up to 10 millimetres of rain. Crews are working to complete a fuel-free buffer zone on the southeast flank in preparation for a planned ignition that will secure this perimeter of the fire,” said the BC Wildfire Service.
Heavy equipment is being used to continue to build a contingency line along the southern flank of the fire to help secure the area.
According to the BC Wildfire Service, the Doctor Creek wildfire is approximately 7,937-hectares in size as of Tuesday’s latest update.
Also in the latest update, 185 firefighters, 6 helicopters and 13 pieces of heavy equipment are committed to fighting the blaze.
The RDEK is urging residents and visitors to sign up for the Evacuation Notification System if they have not already done so.
“If you camp and recreate in the East Kootenay, you can drop location pins in all your favourite spots to receive notifications in the event of evacuation orders or alerts,” said Duczek.