It may not have been a saturating rain storm desperately needed in the Shuswap and throughout B.C.’s Interior, but it was still good news to begin the week with.
On Monday morning, July 26, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) notified the public that the evacuation order issued July 20 for properties within the District of Sicamous had been rescinded, and that those properties impacted by the order were on evacuation alert.
Being able to let Sicamous residents return home was cause to smile for Sicamous Fire Chief Brett Ogino, well into day seven of the Two Mile Road fire, burning in the hills south of Sicamous. Ogino explained Sunday’s weather forecast – wind and lightning – kept the rescind notice from going out the day prior.
“We were hoping to launch it yesterday, but because of that prediction, we held off until today,” said Ogino. “And also we wanted people to be able to return home in daylight.”
Ogino explained the decision followed a determination from the BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) and their incident commander Alan Berry.
“This is information from the fire line and what he’s seen himself walking it, aerial recons and stuff like that, giving him a comfort level to partially rescind the evacuation order,” said Ogino. “But people have to realize they’re still under an alert; they should be ready to go. All it’s going to take is a bad wind and we’re right back in it.”
As of Monday morning (July 26), the Two Mile fire remained at 1,000 hectares. According to the CSRD, BCWS had 28 firefighters working the fire, while structure protection units (SPU) remained on scene with day and night crews set up. Sicamous firefighters continued to work on structure protection, along with firefighters from Ranchero-Deep Creek and Swansea Point.
“It’s still an evolving situation,” said Ogino, regarding the south end of the fire. “They’re working to tie it into Hummingbird Creek and if they’re able to get that accomplished today, that will be a big success. Then they’ll start working in from the guard and try to extinguish as much as they can to reduce the threat.
“It’s still a lot of heavy fuels, it’s still burning pretty aggressively. I won’t say we’re completely out of the woods. It’s a relief we were able to partially lift the order, but I’m not going to be sleeping super good until that thing is under much better control.”
Due to ongoing dangers that include falling trees and debris, Highway 97A remains closed, with roadblocks set up near Sicamous and at the Highway 97B/97A intersection.
While sharing Monday’s update on the fire with the Observer, Ogino paused, then said a boat was going through the area of Mara Lake being used by the helicopter crews to refill buckets. He said it was the same when skimmer planes working the fire were trying to refill. This has been an ongoing cause of frustration for the fire chief.
“Do you not recognize you’re impeding an actual aerial operation,” said Ogino. “These guys are incredibly talented and incredibly brave, and you’re just making their jobs a lot more dangerous because you’ve got to have a look.”
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