Home Wildfire News B.C. firefighters make progress on Oliver blaze

B.C. firefighters make progress on Oliver blaze

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Firefighters in British Columbia made significant progress in fighting a fire that threatens homes near the town of Oliver. “I think we’ve made great progress on certainly parts of this fire,” Dale Bojhara, a fire information officer with the B.C. Forest Service, told reporters Thursday.

Firefighters have about 35 per cent of the fire surrounded — something Bojhara credited with the hard work done by them.

Three bulldozers have been brought in to create fire breaks, while nine helicopters and eight water bombers dropped huge buckets of water on hot spots.

Eighty-six firefighters work 12-hour shifts on the fire.

“It’s really exhausting, especially when you push, push, push all day,” said firefighter Travis Routtu.

“It looks like we’ll be here for another week or so, so we’ll be getting good firefighting experience out of it,” added Billy Alphonse, another firefighter.

On Wednesday, authorities issued a fire evacuation alert for 54 homes in the town’s vicinity in the south Okanagan valley.

That alert remains in effect despite the progress on the fire.

Since the 500-hectare fire will require attention for several weeks, the local high school’s grounds will be converted to a temporary camp for them, said CTV News Vancouver’s David Kincaid, on the scene in Oliver.

“We’re gearing up for between 150, 200 people,” said Marc Weis, the forest service’s logistics chief.

“Whether it gets up that high or not, we don’t know, but we always anticipate slightly on the high side, because if it does, we’re prepared for it.”

Since firefighters can burn off up to 6,000 calories per day, “our job is ensure they replace those calories, and to keep them happy while they’re doing it,” said Dean Allen of Summit Catering.

The fire began went a lawnmower’s blade hit a rock, causing sparks that ignited the tinder-dry

The Spence’s Bridge fire

An even larger fire is burning near Spence’s Bridge, which lies along the Trans-Canada highway west of Kamloops.

However, unlike the McKinney Road fire, as the Oliver blaze is known, it is not an “interface fire”, meaning it doesn’t threaten people’s homes.

The 4,721-hectare fire has 173 firefighters working on it, plus 11 helicopters and four pieces of heavy equipment.

The fire is considered to be uncontained.

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