Precipice fire creates smoky skies in Bella Coola

The Precipice wildfire continues to grow and is creating heavy smoke for the Bella Coola Valley

The Precipice wildfire continues to grow and is creating heavy smoke for the Bella Coola Valley. Like much of the rest of the province, the Valley has been covered in a thick blanket of smoke due to the fire, which is showing no signs of slowing down.

“The Precipice wildfire is burning about 52 kilometres east of Bella Coola and continues to grow. This lightning-caused fire started on July 7, 2017, in a remote area of Tweedsmuir Park on the Cariboo Plateau,” said Donna MacPherson, Fire Information Officer with the Coastal Fire Centre. “As of the afternoon of Aug. 5, this fire covered about 4,300 hectares and had spread beyond the park boundary. BC Wildfire Service personnel are continuing work on this fire and develop further control strategies. The firefighters face challenging conditions, including a lack of road access, continuous forest fuels and smoke that has impeded aircraft operations.”

The thick layer of fog and smoke in the Valley has been preventing deployment of helicopters to the fire, but air operations and ground crews remain ready to resume operations as soon as conditions permit. Thick, heavy smoke was also being reported at the site of the fire, which can delay water bucketing operations and placement of ground crews.

Controlled burns are being prepared for as conditions allow, and resources include 41 firefighters nine helicopters and five pieces of heavy equipment.

The Precipice fire affects an area that is within the boundaries of both the Central Coast Regional District and the Cariboo Regional District.

The Cariboo Regional District issued an evacuation alert to the communities of Anahim Lake, Nimpo Lake and Charlotte Lake on August 4 with the potential evacuation route to be Highway 20 east to Williams Lake. However, the CCRD has been preparing locally should residents of those communities be evacuated to Bella Coola instead.

The CCRD issued an evacuation order for areas affected by the Precipice fire on July 10 and it has not yet been lifted. So far no homesteads in the area have been lost and structural protection crews have been active in the area along with local homeowners.

The same Structural Protection Units that have been working on the Precipice plateau will now be present in the Anahim area. SPU crews will be assessing properties to determine where structures may be at risk.

So far Highway 20 remains open despite heavy smoke in many areas, but travelers are encouraged to check DriveBC for updates before traveling.

For updates on the Precipice fire go to Wildfires of Note at www.bcwildfire.ca