Sunday Aug 30 – 8PM
Yesterday I was asked by Jo-Ann Doucette if there was a group helping feed the firefighters that she could connect with. When I pointed out that here in BC we have a few hoops to jump through in order to meet WorkSafeBC and FoodSafe regulatory requirements. She forged ahead and did her research to find out what the guidelines were. She talked to the Fire Bosses to find out what they wanted, where and when. And arranged to use the certified kitchen at the Gospel Chapel. And solicited with friends and online for volunteers to help bake today at 1:30 in the afternoon. When we visited there were a dozen people in the kitchen and a few more showed up while we talked.
Sunday Aug 30 – 11AM
The Evacuation Alert has been lifted. more info at rdkb.com
The Kettle Complex fire: Strong winds and some light rain hit the complex on Saturday. More light rain was falling Sunday morning. This wet pattern should continue over the next few days providing the opportunity for more direct action on the edges of the fires.
The StickPin fire: Yesterday this fire only increased slightly in size. (now 53,469 acres, 20% contained) The north end of the fire remains 2.9 miles (4.7 kilometers) south of the Canadian border. The northeast corner of the fire west of Orient experienced a 15-acre slopover, with smaller slopovers on the west and the northwest side of the fire. Today crews will begin new firelines around those slopover areas.
Construction of fireline along the southwest will continue to reduce the risk of fire advancing south and impacting the Sherman Pass (Highway 20). Along the western edge of the fire, firefighters will continue to improve lines to keep the fire from moving towards Curlew and the Route 21 corridor.
Fire management officials are keeping a close watch on the North Star Fire and will provide engines, dozers, and crews to support initial attack and assist with the protection of the town of Republic, if needed.
Saturday Aug 29 – 5PM
The Lynch Creek fire appeared on the the North Fork side of the mountains today. Helicopters had been busy hitting it in the hours before this footage was shot.
Saturday Aug 29 – 11AM
The last few days have seen Canadian firefighting teams and equipment integrated into the fight against StickPin just across the border in Washington. From InciWeb:(9AM)
Saturday’s winds will be much stronger as a cold front moves into the area in the morning, with constant winds in the afternoon of 20 miles per hour and gusts reaching 45 miles per hour at higher elevations. Air resources could be grounded due to the high winds. Light showers may bring up to 0.25 inches of rain through tomorrow. Air quality specialists predict air quality could improve in some areas, with the level of health concern falling to the moderate range over the next two days.
The Stickpin Fire is now estimated at 53,469 acres (21,638 hectares). Crews on the northwest corner of the fire were prevented from using controlled burning due to increased humidity but the fire is being held in place with firelines they have constructed. On the northeast corner of the fire, three crews from BC Wildfire Service along with fireline supervisors and heavy equipment made progress constructing fireline to reduce the threat to Christina Lake and Grand Forks BC, the Highway 395 corridor, and the Orient watershed. Canadian helicopter operations may continue along the northeast corner if weather allows. The north end of the fire is still approximately 4.7 kilometers (2.9 miles) south of the Canadian border.
On this side of the border the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary structural protection crews have been supplemented with additional resources from our resource partners in the Regional District of Central Kootenay and the Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire Rescue.
Fourteen firefighters brought 4 fire engines and 2 tenders to the Christina Lake staging area.
When I looked at MODIS data today I was pleasantly surprised to see no new fire detections in the past 24 hours. It will not stay that way but it’s still good to see.
Today the smoke began to clear … it’s a mixed blessing because that is the result of wind and wind feeds fires. But we’ve been living under it so long our lungs could use the reprieve. Last weekend I shared my efforts to cobble together an air cleaner. On Thursday I changed the filter …
Wednesday Aug 26
Public info meeting at GFSS Aug 26 – 6PM
INFORMATION BULLETIN – Evacuation Alerts Issued for areas of Grand Forks and Christina Lake
An Evacuation Alert has been issued for areas of:
- Electoral Area D south of the Kettle River and south of the City of Grand Forks,including the Industrial/Ruckle area of the City of Grand Forks (see map)
- Ponderosa and Cascade areas of Electoral Area C (see map)
This is an Evacuation Alert, not an Evacuation Order, no residents are directed to evacuate at this time.
This Evacuation Alert is in response to the Stickpin Fire in Washington State.
This Evacuation Alert is being issued due to an upcoming weather event (strong winds) expected in the next few days. The area under Evacuation Alert could be impacted by ember showers from fires in Washington State. If you see a spot fire started from embers, call 911.
Tonight (Aug 26) – Stickpin Fire Information Public Meetings
6PM – Grand Forks Secondary School Gym in Grand Forks – 1331 Central Ave
8PM – Christina Lake Town Hall – 90 Park Rd
Sunday Aug 23 – Midnight
The RDKB site changed its format slightly today and now includes a number of links to external sources of information. It does have a notice of a public meeting tomorrow Monday the 24th. 7-9PM at the Midway Resiliency Centre: 692 -7th Ave. for anyone (Rock Creek area) impacted by the recent wildfires.
The status of the StickPin fire is
Stickpin Fire is at 47,544 acres and is burning on the Kettle Crest between Curlew and Orient. The fire is 15% contained. Firelines constructed along the western edge are holding. Crews continue to strengthen the lines. … Fire crews from across the state are in place to assist Ferry County Fire 14 and Ferry County District 3/Stevens 8 with structure protection under the State Mobilization Act. … Two hand crews, dozers, and management personnel arrived from British Columbia, Canada today to work in partnership with existing resources fire suppression efforts on the northern perimeter. The fire has burned into the Togo Fire (2003) burn area and crews are working to construct line to keep the fire from progressing towards Grand Forks and Christina Lake British Columbia.
Here in Grand Forks the valley was still filled with smoke this morning. Our house doesn’t use forced air heating and we have no air cleaners … so we did something about that.
We had to make a trip to Kelowna and I had hoped to find a place free from smoke – just a pipe dream as it turned out. Check out the video.
As we passed through the Rock Creek area I was shooting video with two cameras. The first is the dashcam which stares forward. The second is the 360 degree camera. That was mounted on the nose of the SUV at an angle. Maybe not the best strategy but I was trying something … anyway, to view that video use Google’s Chrome browser to make the 360 panning work.
The 360 degree video:
Saturday Aug 22 – Midnight
Changed the title to ‘Wildfire Blog” … the original title really only referenced the Rock Creek situation in the beginning.Today the valley filled with smoke, the worst, most dense. smoke so far. In a Facebook post former city councillor and clean air boost Chris Moslin posted a graph showing the PM2.5 (2.5 micron particulates) concentrations over the past week. From this post “Almost twice as smokey as Thursday right now. Remember an air quality warning is called when the PM 2.5 gets to 25 micrograms per cubic meter for 24 hours. Right now we are at 430”. This is the worst, he is not wrong there. Yesterday I created as small program to fetch and save successive webcam images from the web and I pointed it at the city’s webcam on Observation Mtn. Then I animated it.
Gregg Anderson found a site that shows Air Quality data http://aqicn.org/city/british-comlumbia/grand-forks-city-hall/. Take a look at this pic.
What MODIS sees at Midnight. The graphic shows the detections in the last 12 hours. Remember the detection patches are 1 kilometer squares in size. (Click on it for a larger image)
From inciWeb 8PM
Stickpin Fire is at 44,858 acres and is burning on the Kettle Crest between Curlew and Orient. The fire is now 15% contained. … Three helicopters are supporting firefighting efforts. … Fire crews from across the state are in place to assist … These resources are dedicated to structure protection and free up additional firefighters for wildland fireline construction.
Canadian overhead resources are assisting today with scouting the northern portion of the fire; Canadian crews arrive tomorrow to work in partnership with existing resources fire suppression efforts on the northern perimeter. The fire has burned into the Togo Fire (2003) burn area and crews are working to construct line to keep the fire from progressing towards Grand Forks and Christina Lake British Columbia.
Lynch Creek continues to consume resources and generate smoke.
As of 12:00 Aug 22 the RDKB site says “THERE ARE NO EVACUATION ALERTS FOR GRAND FORKS OR CHRISTINA LAKE AT THIS TIME.”
Friday Aug 21 – 6:50PM
Laurier WA (just south of Christina Lake) has been on Evacuation alert today. It has varied from 1 to 3 at different times. Don’t think about traveling down Hwy 395 into the USA – you can’t get across at this time unless you are local traffic.
Friday Aug 21 – 8:30AM
The fire detection map for this morning for only the last 12 hours. Note Lynch Creek and the Paulson do not show up …
Thursday Aug 20 – Midnight
There was a Public Meeting at the GFSS Gymnasium at 6:30PM
Thursday Aug 20 – Noon
Stickpin Fire is at 41,589 acres and is burning on the Kettle Crest between Curlew and Orient. The fire is now 10% contained. Dozer and hand line construction continued yesterday on the western perimeter; approximately 12 miles of dozer line and one mile of handline are constructed and crews are working to hold those lines today. Yesterday, interior fuels burned near the northern perimeter on Togo Mountain. The fire has burned into the Togo Fire (2003) burn area and retardant may be used to keep the fire from progressing towards Grand Forks and Christina Lake British Columbia. The fire was also active on the southwestern perimeter jumping the line in one location adding several hundred acres. New lines were established around the escape area. Three helicopters are supporting firefighting efforts. Public and firefighter safety is a significant concern, and incident management personnel are looking at all options for suppression. Fire crews from across the state are in place to assist Ferry County Fire District 14 with structure protection under the State Mobilization Act. These resources are dedicated to structure protection and free up additional firefighters for wildland fireline construction.
From the RDKB site a media release
SMOKY SKIES ADVISORY ISSUED FOR SOUTHERN AREAS OF THE BOUNDARY AND KOOTENAY REGIONS
August 20th , 2015 9:00 PDT– Penticton. The Ministry of Environment, in collaboration with the Interior Health Authority, has issued a Smoky Skies Advisory for the southern areas of the Boundary and Kootenay regions. In addition to local smoke from forest fires that continue to burn in the regions, those areas are being affected by transboundary smoke from forest fires south of the border. Smoke concentrations will vary widely as winds, fire behaviour and temperatures change.
Avoid strenuous outdoor activities. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, contact your health care provider: difficulty in breathing, chest pain or discomfort, and sudden onset of cough or irritation of airways. Exposure is particularly a concern for infants, the elderly and those who have underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, and lung or heart disease.
This advisory will remain in effect until further notice.
Wednesday Aug 19 – Midnight
The wind shifted shortly after the previous post and the valley filled with smoke. The smell was quite strong.
The picture below shows MODIS data for the 12 hours previous to now. You can see some activity up the North Fork as well as the StickPin, Paulson and north of Rock Creek.
Men and equipment will be moving into the space behind Kal Tire. They may be using the Angus MacDonald ball field as a campsite. These guys are just in case the StickPin fire begins to cross into our valley …
Here is a thought: We’re going to be hosting firefighters for a while and even though most of the time they will be out there somewhere fighting fires they will be around at the starts and ends of their shifts. And they need to get fed and watered … and they should get served before the rest of us because the sooner they get done the sooner they can get working OR get needed rest. Because they are busting their butts and risking their lives for US. We Owe Them the courtesy at a minimum. And I have Roger at Jogas to thank for reminding me of that …
Wednesday Aug 19 – 3PM
DriveBC reports “Forest Fire 15 km east of Christina Lake to Junction with Highway 3B at Nancy Greene Lake (32.1 km). Road is open to two way traffic, possible 20 minute delay throughout the day. Updated on Wed Aug 19 at 2:32 pm PDT. (ID# 192246)” (Watch for fallen rock in the long stretch before the Paulson Bridge.)
The RDKB website says (as of 3:22PM)
We are able to confirm that the Evacuation Order will be rescinded and all areas within the Rock Creek/Westbridge fire zones are on an Evacuation Alert — effective 1900 hours Wednesday, August 19, 2015.
The Highway 33 corridor remains closed indefinitely.
Local residents traffic will be permitted by pass only. The passes can be picked up the reception centres in
1480 Sutherland Avenue
692 7th Avenue”
The city is reporting that the area of city land behind Kal Tire is being used by the Southeast Fire District as an Equipment Preparation Centre
Tuesday Aug 18 – 7 PM – Update 2
From this DriveBC website page Highway 3 to our East is now “Closed in both directions 15 km east of Christina Lake to Junction with Highway 3B at Nancy Greene Lake (32.1 km) because of Forest Fire. No detour available. Estimated time of opening currently not available; Assessment in progress. Next update at 8:00 pm. Updated on Tue Aug 18 at 6:56 pm PDT”.
From inciweb at 7PM: Stickpin Fire – Stickpin Fire is at 37,850 acres. Structure protection is the highest priority for the limited resources; firefighters are providing structure protection and looking for options to construct fire lines. Dozer and hand line construction continued yesterday in the Boulder Creek and Long Alec Creek areas. Yesterday, interior fuels burned near the northern perimeter on Togo Mountain. The fire has burned into the Togo Fire (2003) burn area. The fire is approximately 4 miles south of the Canadian border. Continued growth is expected today. Three helicopters arrived yesterday to support firefighting efforts. Public and firefighter safety is a significant concern, and incident management personnel are looking at all options for suppression. Fire crews from across the state are in place to assist Ferry County Fire District 14 with structure protection under the State Mobilization Act as approved by the Chief of the State Patrol and the State Fire Marshal.
Tuesday Aug 18 – Update
If you go to the InciWeb website page for the StickPin fire you will see a notice that essentially says the StickPin fire has been absorbed into the Kettle Complex and that site (http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4487/) will NO LONGER be updated … so now you have to go to http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4536/ for the most up to date info. From that page:
Incident Summary: The Kettle Complex includes four fires in northern Ferry County Washington.
Current Situation: Firefighters continue to arrive to work on the Kettle Complex. Crews are taking advantage of cooler weather and mild winds. Significant fire activity continued across the region yesterday and fire officials are working together to prioritize incident personnel and manage numerous incidents. Support teams from the Washington National Guard have arrived. The Guard medics and other personnel will assist fire managers to ensure safety of the public and firefighters on the Kettle Complex. A warming and drying trend is forecast for the next several days and fire activity is expected to increase significantly on Wednesday and Thursday on all fires in the Kettle Complex.
Stickpin Fire – Stickpin Fire is at 37,850 acres. Structure protection is the highest priority for the limited resources; firefighters are providing structure protection and looking for options to construct fire lines. Dozer and hand line construction continued yesterday in the Boulder Creek and Long Alec Creek areas. Yesterday, interior fuels burned near the northern perimeter on Togo Mountain. The fire has burned into the Togo Fire (2003) burn area. The fire is approximately 4 miles south of the Canadian border. Continued growth is expected today. Three helicopters arrived yesterday to support firefighting efforts. Public and firefighter safety is a significant concern, and incident management personnel are looking at all options for suppression. Fire crews from across the state are in place to assist Ferry County Fire District 14 with structure protection under the State Mobilization Act as approved by the Chief of the State Patrol and the State Fire Marshal.
Roy Road Fire – The Roy Road Fire is burning west of Republic and is approximately 120 acres. There are four homes threatened. A dozer line has been completed around the fire perimeter, however, the interior remains active. There is a significant amount of unburned fuel in the interior. The cause is under investigation.
Graves Mountain Fire – The Graves Mountain Fire is burning along Highway 20 in the Sherman Pass area and the smoke column will continue to be visible. The fire is approximately 1,300 acres. It started on Thursday during a thunderstorm from a tree falling in power lines. Firefighters have constructed a fireline on the southern perimeter near the BPA powerlines and are continuing to patrol and monitor the lines. The fire is burning in thick lodgepole pine in steep, rocky terrain.
There are other sources of information. The US Dept of Agriculture has a website dedicated to Fire Detection with a section that gives Fire Data in Google Earth from Infra-Red satellite instruments! Which you and I can access for Free.
I’ve put out a short How-To on using that information
Sunday Aug 16 – Update 2
At the start of day the valley was filled with smoke but the wind cleared it out as the day progressed. The afternoon was clear – clear enough so the previously schedule events for City Park went off nicely. But at the end of the afternoon a column of smoke could be seen rising from behind Galena – fairly close by the looks of it. That turned out to be a prescribed fire to help in the control of the StickPin fire. I took some Timelapse video of that plume. Luckily the wind is blowing away from us.
How-To for using web tools
I and others have posted a number of screen shots to the web from various online information sites related to the wildfires. The StickPin fire is in the USA and the inciweb site is the most referred to (I have a link to it in my first posting at the bottom of this article). Last night and today I noticed that the site was being sluggish to respond and at times just did not. But if you got to it from the front page of the inciweb site you could get there. But how many know that and could figure it out? Another thing that I wondered was how well casual users might operate the mapping sites … the USGS site does not have the InfraRed satellite data included – you need to turn that on. So I made a how-to video to show users those things.
Sunday Aug 16 – Update
Highway 3 has been reopened between Osoyoos and Midway. Expect to do 50 Km/H in some sections and watch out for flaggers. Highway 33 remains closed.
The StickPin fire as of 9AM: (from http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/4487/27149/)
Current Situation: Firefighters continue to arrive to work on the Stickpin fire. Crews were able to take advantage of cooler weather and mild winds yesterday. The west side of the fire is the first priority; firefighters are providing structure protection and looking for options to construct fire lines. Dozer line was started yesterday in the Boulder Creek and Long Alec areas. Public and firefighter safety is a significant concern, and incident management personnel are looking at all options for suppression. Fire crews from across the state are in place to assist Ferry County Fire District 14 with structure protection under the State Mobilization Act as approved by the Chief of the State Patrol and the State Fire Marshal. Significant fire activity occurred across the region yesterday and fire officials are working together to prioritize incident personnel and manage numerous incidents. A warming and drying trend is forecast for the next few days and fire activity is expected to increase. Northwest-north winds will be 3-5 miles per hour.
The Paulson area fires:
It is now at 250 Hectares. A 10 man crew is out there but other fires have sprung up between there and Castlegar as can be seen on the interactive map at http://bcwildfire.ca/hprScripts/WildfireNews/OneFire.asp
Saturday Aug 15 – Update2
The sky over Grand Forks looked almost normal … until the afternoon. When smoke began to creep over the mountain from the south and fill the east end of the valley.
Some have worried about the fire near the Paulson … rumour’s are flying about concerning Highway 3 being closed in both directions. That is Not True. To show what’s happening along the road to the Paulson we took a trip up to the bridge. The video below shows what we found.
While the smoke wasn’t as bad as it was yesterday there was evidence of its passing over … some people have seen fair sized pieces of burnt debris and toasted Pine needles are on the pavement right downtown.
The early morning USGS maps showed the relative sizes of the Stickpin fire to the south and the one near the Paulson bridge. (these images came from this site: http://wildfire.usgs.gov/geomac/viewer/viewer.shtml) In the Dynamic Data section turn on all the features.
Finally, with so many people posting in so many places and so many possible places to find out things it can get confusing and difficult to know what’s real and not; how current or stale information is. My advice is IF there is a phone number associated with whatever it is Please Phone First. IF you hear something please try to verify it from a real source … Facebook may be a fantastic social networking system but it is also a great source of incorrect misinformation and rumours too …
The poster below is a case in point: The Credit Union stopped collecting things the day after this poster went up. That’s not to say that things might not change and the help won’t be needed again but …. please call first … And not that Emergency Operations Centre number 250-368-9127.
Saturday Aug 15 – Update
Just before midnight it began to rain and with that there was Lightning. The rain didn’t last too long (less than an hour) but the lightning could be seen to the south and east for quite a while. Grand Forks Fire Rescue were kept busy and on their toes with reports of small fires likely the result of lightning strikes.
Friday Aug 14 – Update 2
For those who weren’t present here is a little video … we drive from town east and then down to Carson road and across the bottom of the valley west. The smoke cloud from the Stickpin fire is overhead like a muddy river and we drive under it and back out again. Look up and around at the 2:45 mark to see how different the atmosphere can be. And you need to use Google Chrome to watch this in order to make the 360 video work.
Friday Aug 14 – Update
The StickPin fire has grown overnight and the smoke can be seen covering our little valley.
New fires have cropped up since yesterday.
There is a 0.1 hectare fire at Lynch Creek. Another just before the Paulson bridge. That has caused rumours of highway 3 being closed to the east – That is NOT true as of 5PM today.
Hwy 3 IS closed to the west in the vicinity of Rock Creek.
51 evacuees are known to have come to Grand Forks. There might be more that have not contacted the Service BC office to register.
Thursday Aug 13 – Original article
Around 1PM today (Aug 13/2015) a wildfire broke out in the area North West of Rock Creek. It spread quickly and has caused evacuations along Hwy 33 from Rock Creek to Westbridge with evacuees sent to Kelowna. Evacuees in the Christian Valley as far north as Fiva Creek are being sent to Lumby. Livestock is being sent to the Rock Creek Fair grounds.
The Kettle River Provincial park campground was hit hard and people there were forced out on foot – meaning their camps and vehicles likely burned with the forest.
From BC Wildfire Management Branch (Thurs/Aug 13)
BC Wildfire Service crews are responding to an estimated 800 hectare wildfire in the Rock Creek area. Despite the continued efforts of airtankers and ground crews, this fire quickly grew to its current size due to a combination of wind, high temperatures, low humidity and a fire danger rating of “Extreme” for the area.
Approximately 200 people were evacuated from the nearby Kettle River provincial campground. The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary has issued an Evacuation Order for 240 homes in the area. For more information on this Evacuation Order, visit the RDKB website at: www.rdkb.com
Thirty-six BC Wildfire Service personnel worked alongside the Midway Fire Department throughout the afternoon. Forty additional BC Wildfire Service personnel are arriving at the fire this evening and a 20-person sustained action crew will remain on site overnight assisting with structure protection. A type 1 Incident Management Team will be arriving at the fire tomorrow.
The cause of this fire is under investigation.
For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, visit http://www.bcwildfire.ca
To report a wildfire or open burning violation, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone.
You can also follow the latest wildfire news on:
People in the Grand Forks area are making space and opening their homes to their friends and neighbours from west of here. On Facebook there is a “Rock Creek Fire and Evacuee Information” page.
On various Grand Forks related Facebook groups and pages people have been volunteering help.
Got Livestock in the area? There is a Facebook group for you: BC’s Emergency Livestock /Animal Evacuation Group.
Apparently in Midway there is an Evacuation Centre at the Community Centre.
Here in Grand Forks we are very close to the USA, closer than we are to Greenwood. And just as the forests do not respect borders we have to keep an eye cast to the south because fire doesn’t care about national borders.
As of late Thursday there is a fire to the south of us in the Collville National Forest. This is the StickPin fire. It is much less than 50 Km from Grand Forks. The forest it is consuming comes north to Galena Mtn. You can find out where the wildfires are in the state of Washington at the Incident Information System page for Washington.
As the situation evolves we will try to provide information as we are made aware of it.