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UPDATED: Southeast Fire Centre says Sitkum Creek wildfire now estimated 300 hectares

The Air Tractor "Fire Boss" plane prepares to load up water near John's Walk Sunday with the Sitkum Creek Wildfire in the background. — Bruce Fuhr, The Nelson Daily

The Southeast Fire Centre in a late Sunday news release said the Sitkum Creek blaze has increased in size to a now estimated 300 hectares.

The larger estimated size of this fire is due to increased visibility on Sunday which permitted more accurate mapping. 

"The majority of the fire's growth occurred due to high temperatures and erratic winds when it was discovered on Saturday afternoon through to Saturday night," said Southeast Fire Centre Information Officer Jordan Turner.

Turner said the BC Wildfire Service has 25 firefighters, four pieces of heavy equipment and two water tenders on scene.

These resources are supported by helicopters and multiple airtanker groups, including four Air Tractor AT-802F "Fire Boss" amphibious airtankers which are scooping from Kootenay Lake.

"The primary objective of BC Wildfire Service personnel is to protect local residences near the south and west flanks of the fire," Turner said.

"There will be firefighters monitoring this incident throughout the night."

To report a wildfire or open burning violation, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone. Please do not call 9-1-1 emergencies.

The Nelson Daily will continue to update the status of the Sitkum Creek wildfire. Readers with photos can send them to sports@thenelsondaily.com

Heavy air support resources keeps Sitkum Creek wildfire from spreading

The BC Wildfire Service turned up the heat on the Sitkum Creek interface fire by calling out a full arsenal of air resources to fight back 150 hectare blaze Sunday north of Nelson.

Four Air Tractor "Fire Boss" planes, air tankers, and Heavey helicopter were brought in to battle the blaze that started Saturday afternoon four kilometers north of the Heritage City.

"The fire is a very high priority provincially so we will be hitting it with everything we have available and continue to do so until the BC Wildfire Service believes this wildfire is no longer a threat," said Southeast Fire Centre Information Officer, Jordan Turner.

Turner said the location of the wildfire, and the threat to the residents on the North Shore led to the increase in resources.

“All day we’ve been putting on extensive air tanker action and Heavy Helicopters on the fire,” said Turner.

“Right now we’re monitoring the west and south flanks in case an evacuation order needs to be put into place.

“At this point in time we are not recommending that. (The fire) hasn’t moved much from this morning.”

The interface wildfire, which started Saturday afternoon, is highly visible from the City of Nelson, surrounding areas and Highway 3A.

The uncertainty of the wildfire forced the RDCK Emergency Operations Centre to issue an evacuation alert Saturday night.

The evacuation alert was for approximately 350 residences between Sitkum Creek South and Willow Point (Six Mile Lakes Road).

However, Turner said the evacuation alert, and not an evacuation order, remains in place for now.

"We’ve had a lot of questions whether the evacuation order is in place, and that is not the case . . . an evacuation order is not in place, only an evacuation alert," Turner stated.

An evacuation alert is given to allow resident to make necessary preparations to leave their homes.

If an evacuation order is issued, meaning residents are in immediate danger and should leave their homes, emergency personnel will alert impacted residents by visiting homes.

Turner said along with air support, 25 firefighters have been battling the blaze on the ground.

Due to the remoteness of the wildfire, the ground crew were helicoptered into the wildfire or hiked into battle the blaze.

“We do have 25 firefighters on the ground working all day to maintain those west and south flanks so the fire doesn’t spread into the residences nearby,” Turner said.

People in Nelson have had front row seats watching air tankers and the Air Tractor AT-802F "Fire Boss" amphibious airtankers planes in action.

Air Tractor AT-802F "Fire Boss" amphibious airtankers planes, operated by Conair Group, deliver 222,361 litres of water and foam in minutes from the West Arm of Kootenay Lake north of the Big Orange Bridge to the wildfire.

The Fire Boss fleet replaced two Martin Mars water bombers that were previously contracted by the B.C.

The reason for the change is due to the smaller aircraft can be deployed more quickly, operate from more than 1,700 bodies of water in B.C. and can be split up as needed to assist with multiple fires.

The Air Tractor AT-802F "Fire Boss" amphibious airtankers were used to battle the Slocan Park wildfire last August.

To report a wildfire or open burning violation, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone. Please do not call 9-1-1 emergencies.

The Nelson Daily will continue to update the status of the Sitkum Creek wildfire. Readers with photos can send them to sports@thenelsondaily.com