The fire burning near Sparwood on the evening of July 23. (Keaton Barrass photo)
Nicholas L. M. Allen
Jul 26, 2023
The BC Wildfire Service has identified the fire as a “Wildfire of Note” and “Out of Control”.
The BC Wildfire Service has provided an update on the Lladnar Creek Wildfire near Sparwood on July 24.
This fire originated at high elevation on a ridgetop with airtankers and helicopters working steadily on July 22 to slow fire growth. As of July 24, the fire has spread to cover an estimated 150 hectares.
“Elevated winds have increased fire behaviour and activity on the Lladnar Creek wildfire. A response officer has flown the fire and the size is now estimated to be 150 hectares,” according to BC Wildfire Service.
The BC Wildfire Service has identified the fire as a “Wildfire of Note” and “Out of Control” meaning it is highly visible or poses a potential threat to public safety and is continuing to spread and is not responding to suppression efforts. The suspected cause of the fire is lightning or other natural source.
The BC Wildfire Service has determined the wildfire requires a “full” response. This designation is met when there is threat to public safety and/or property including infrastructure. During a full response, a wildfire is suppressed and controlled until it is deemed “out”.
An Initial Attack crew assessed the site for access and egress (exit) options to the fire and found no safe options. As it is burning in very steep and rocky terrain, crews are not able to work on this fire directly where it sits.
“While wildfire management relies on a fleet of reliable and capable aircraft to assist firefighters on the ground, there are several incidents where the use of aircraft can have unintended negative consequences. It is the job of experienced personnel on the ground, in the zone, in operations, and in aviation that must decide whether the use of aircraft can do more harm than good,” said BC Wildfire Service, “Bucketing in steep terrain can wash burning debris downslope. Additionally, the heavy winds that helicopter rotors create can cast burning embers and start unintended spot fires that then also have to be suppressed.”
A fire analysis is being developed that will include a suppression plan that will be activated when the fire reaches an area that crews will be able to work on it.
“Human life and safety remains the BC Wildfire Service’s number one priority. While the fire has grown and moved down from the ridgetop, it continues to burn in an area that is too steep and mountainous for crews to safely access. Suppression plans for this fire are being finalized. Ground personnel and heavy equipment resources are assigned and will be on the incident by this evening,” said BC Wildfire Service in their update on July 24.
According to BC Wildfire Service, staff are working to ensure the most appropriate firefighting equipment is available to help protect the communities, natural resources and infrastructure from wildfire risks.
Equipment has been positioned in the Sparwood area. Crews were on site Monday night to directly monitor fire growth. On July 25, heavy equipment and ground crews began putting in machine guards in areas where this work can happen safely.
On the evening of July 24, Upper and Lower Matevic Road and all properties in Sparwood Heights, south of Sparwood Heights Drive were put on evacuation alert.