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UPDATE: Shovel Lake expecting increased fire behaviour

(UPDATE: Aug. 21 @ 12:05 a.m.) - Shovel Lake wildfire has seen minimal growth, now measured at 86,397 hectares but windy conditions expected in the next few days are anticipated to increase fire behaviour.

On a more positive note, BCWS is reporting that crews are making good progress on increasing containment and will continue to focus their efforts on the southeast flank and reinforce the protection of the Highway 27 corridor.

On the east flank, near the Fort St. James community, the fire is also being well detained and have not seen a progression toward the residential area in several days. Structural protection crews — including enginers, water tender trucks and personnel — will remain present in the area.

There are 229 firefighters, 47 units of heavy equipment and eight helicopters working to suppress the fire with an additional 37 support personnel, 17 structural protection staff and eight helicopters being shared between the fires in the area, including the Shovel Lake wildfire.

Evacuation Orders and Alerts remain in effect.

(UPDATE: Aug. 20 @ 2:25 p.m.) - There hasn't been any change to the estimated size of the Shovel Lake wildfire overnight.

"Today, on the south of the fire, ground crews are working to mop up sections of the fire on the southern perimeter where the successful burn-off occurred by Stern Lake several days ago," says BC Wildfire, "and will continue to push guard in on the southern flank of the fire along the PNG pipeline path."

There are 253 firefighters, 52 pieces of heavy equipment and eight helicopters devoted to this wildfire, while a number of extra resources are being shared between this fire and other major ones in nearby.

The Shovel Lake wildfire is the biggest in B.C. and it has forced evacuation orders and alerts, which you can learn more about here.

(UPDATE: Aug. 19 @ 10:40 a.m.) - The Shovel Lake wildfire is being estimated at 85,744 hectares in size this morning after crews conducted a planned ignition yesterday, creating a six kilometre fuel free area from Stern Lake to Ormond Creek.

“This reinforces the containment line that has been put in place along the PNG pipeline and will help stop fire growth south towards the north shore of Fraser Lake by removing fuel within the fire perimeter to eliminate the chance of re-burn and fire spotting potential,” says the BC Wildfire Service.

Today there are 253 firefighters, and 52 pieces of heavy equipment assigned to the fire. In addition, 37 support personnel, 8 helicopters and 17 structural protection staff are shared amongst all fires comprising this complex and are utilized according to areas of highest risk.

(UPDATE: Aug. 18 @ 10:15 p.m.) - BCWS has got some more feet on the ground at the Shovel Lake wildfire, adding numerous firefighters for a collective 191 personnel enlisted to the fire.

Many of the new recruits are firefighters aiding British Columbia from the south of North America, travelling from Mexico to assist, as are many of the current personnel on-site.

Saturday also saw a large planned ignition conducted, securing approximately two kilometres of guard along the north shore of Fraser Lake, reports BCWS.

The Shovel Lake wildfire was exuding large amounts of smoke that was "highly visible" but should not cause concern as it was caused by the controlled burn.

(UPDATE: Aug. 18 @ 10:19 a.m.) - The Shovel Lake fire remains active, and is currently estimated at 78,564 hectares. The reduction in size is due to more accurate mapping made possible by clear skies yesterday.

The fire is visible from the surrounding communities, with open flame seen last night. The BC Wildfire Service is aware of the fire activity and structural protection personnel were tasked to a night shift last night to keep communities safe.

The weather today is forecasted to be sunny with a few clouds in the afternoon. Winds are expected to be light and variable, mainly from the S-SE, with some local light gusts.

Crews conducted a burn-off yesterday from Stern Lake to Ormond Creek to remove fuels from the south perimeter.

The BC Wildfire Service says that this will act as a fuel free area to help stop the fire growth south towards the north shore of Fraser Lake by removing fuel within the fire perimeter to eliminate the chance of re-burn and fire spotting potential. This planned ignition was also supported by water skimming aircraft.

They are also reminding people that the BC WIldfire service is unable to accept or facilitate donations and the Fraser Lake fire camp. Instead please consider donating to groups supporting wildfire evacuees in affected areas.

Today there are 113 firefighter, 52 pieces of heavy equipment, eight helicopters and 17 structural protection staff on site.

(UPDATE: Aug. 17 @ 11:25 a.m.) - The RCMP were advised of explosives on a property in the Fraser Lake fire complex area on Thursday 16, 2018. The property is within an area that is now under evacuation order due to the current wildfire situation.

RCMP Explosive Disposal Unit (EDU) from the Lower Mainland has been called in to neutralize the explosives. BC Wildfire Service will have air tankers and water skimming aircraft in the area, as visibility allows, to assist if needed. The Fraser Lake Fire Department will also be present.

The Shovel Lake wildfire is estimated at 79,192 hectares in size this morning.

Yesterday the wildfire was listed at 60,000 hectares, but the BC Wildfire Service note that this increase in size is from growth over the past few days, not overnight, that they have been able to more accurately map.

The weather is expected to be warm and dry today, with wind gusts from the west up to 30 km/hr. These conditions have led to a fire behaviour advisory being implemented due to potential increased fire activity.

(UPDATE: Aug. 16 @ 11:33 a.m.) - The Shovel Lake wildfire is being estimated at 68,375.0 hectares in size this morning.

There are 113 firefighters and 52 pieces of heavy equipment at the site today. In addition, 37 support personnel, eight helicopters and 17 structural protection staff are shared amongst all fires comprising this complex and are utilized according to areas of highest risk.

A new perimeter map is available for the fire to reflect the most up to date fire size. The BC Wildfire Service notes that fire perimeters are updated as visibility allows due to thick smoke, so changes in size are not always indicative of immediate growth or fire behaviour.

<who>Photo Credit: BC Wildfire Service

(UPDATE: Aug. 15 @ 12:50 p.m.) - The Shovel Lake wildfire did not experience any extreme overnight growth and is still estimated to be 50,831 hectares.

According to BC Wildfire Service, the has been split into north and south divisions.

The north division has worked to secure the Hannay Road and the PNG pipeline on the west flank of the fire.

Crews are also working on tying in Tatin Lake northwest to Owl Lake. If conditions are optimal, crews will burn pockets of fuel on the fire side of this guard tomorrow.

In the south division, crews are working on building guard from Stern Lake east, all the way across the north Fraser Lake.

The management of the fire will be transferred to the Prince George Fire Centre and an additional Incident Management Team will be taking over this wildfire.

Today, there are 113 firefighters and 52 pieces of heavy equipment on scene.

(UPDATE: Aug. 14 @ 9:30 p.m) - According to BCWS, the Shovel Lake wildfire documented at 31,500 hectares earlier Tuesday has grown to a catastrophic 50,831 hectares.

The Shovel Lake wildfire was reported to be exhibiting aggressive behaviour Tuesday on the southwest flank. The aggressive behaviour was driven by high winds in the afternoon forcing crews and equipment to be removed from the line. Objectives will be reestablished for the south flank.

The southeast head of the fire did move but did not break containment lines. On the east side, the fire did expand five kilometres. It also crossed the Trout FSR in a few locations, reports BCWS.

BCWS also noted that the wildfire will be transferred to an additional Incident Management Team on either Wednesday or Thursday.

A successful planned ignition was conducted on Monday on the west flank, securing the Hannay Road on the west side. Wednesday's objectives for crews will include securing the guard.

Crews will also be focusing their attention on protecting areas on the north shore of Fraser Lake with life and property as a top priority.

There were 113 firefighters and 52 units of heavy equipment on the fire Tuesday with 37 support personnel, 16 helicopters and 17 structural protection staff being shared all fires in the complex.

Evacuation Orders and Alerts remain in effect.

(UPDATE: Aug. 14 @ 9:40 a.m.) - Yesterday was a calmer day for the Shovel Lake wildfire.

According to BC Wildfire Service, the fire expanded in the southeast and crossed the Trout Forest Service Road in a few different locations.

Two geographical channels on the south flanks of the fire could move the fire south to the North Shore of Fraser Lake.

On the northwest, a planned ignition was conducted on the fire, but according to BC Wildfire Service, this was not the reason for the increased fire behaviour. BC Wildfire Service claims that the planned ignition went well but winds shifted late in the day blowing in a southeasterly direction.

Today, the 31,500 hectare fire has 113 firefighters and 52 pieces of heavy equipment on scene. An additional 37 support personnel, 16 helicopters and 17 structural protection staff are being shared among all the fires composing the complex.

(UPDATE: Aug. 13 @ 8:40 p.m.) - BCWS has allocated a significant amount of additional resources to the Shovel Lake wildfire.

Enlisted to the Shovel Lake wildfire were 113 firefighters, 52 units of heavy equipment throughout Monday. An additional 37 support personnel, 16 helicopters and 17 structural protection staff are being shared among all the fires composing the complex.

The cause of the ignition has still not been determined but it has amounted to a 31,500-hectare wildfire approximately 6.7 kilometres northwest of Endako, 30 km northeast of Burns Lake and 54 km southwest of Fort St. James.

Despite public reports, there was not a new fire near the Endako Mines; there was, however, a planned ignition was conducted Monday afternoon after being called off on Sunday due ot unfavourable conditions.

According to BCWS, heavy equipment is completing a control line from Tatin Lake to the Trout FSR to be followed immediately after by the construction of a contingency line from the 13 km mark on the Trout FSR to Oona Lake.

In the south of the fire, along the Bomberger-Shovel Creek Road, crews are setting up water delivery systems to support a planned aerial ignition when weather-permitted.

Crews were challenged on the southwest border of the fire along the PNG pipeline due to winds in the late afternoon but were able to contain the fire through bucketing support by heavy helicopters.

Evacuation Alerts and Orders remain in effect near the wildfire.

(UPDATE: Aug. 11 @ 11:45 p.m.) - Due to the fire's proximity to Fort St. James heavy smoke is being reported in the town's vicinity.

The Shovel Lake wildfire is approximately 54 kilometres southwest of Fort St. James, 6.7 km north of Endako and an estimated 13 km north of Stellako.

No additional information has been recorded.

(UPDATE: Aug. 11 @ 12:30 p.m.) - The Shovel Lake wildfire has experienced significant overnight growth and is now considered to be 30,000 hectares.

The fire has moved north and is now between Justine Lake and Trout Forest Service Road.

According to BC Wildfire Service, the fire is approximately 6.7 km north of Endako and Highway 16, and 13 km north of Stellako.

If conditions are optional, burn-out operations will be conducted to remove pockets of heavy fuel to help secure contingency lines.

Today there are 72 firefighters and 53 pieces of heavy equipment on scene.

(UPDATE: Aug. 10. @ 10:40 a.m.) - The Shovel Lake wildfire saw significant growth last night and is now estimated to be 16,500 hectares.

Due to the extremely vigorous surface fire, it is now considered to be a rank 5 fire that is challenging containment efforts.

<who>Photo Credit: BC Government</who>

The southern head of the fire expanded towards Justine Lake and is currently approximately 3 km from the lake. The southern head of the fire also expanded north towards the northern head of the fire.

While the southern containment line was challenged with a number of excursions, personnel quickly brought it under control with the support of heavy machinery and helicopters.

A control line is being built from the Bomberger road to the Tatin road, and a line is being located from Tatin Lake to the Trout road system. In the north, control is being built between the North Hannay Hookup road and the Sutherland road system.

An evacuation order has been implemented and the evacuation alert has been expanded.

Today, there are 111 firefighters and 51 pieces of heavy equipment on scene with the additional support of 37 personnel and 16 helicopters if needed.

(UPDATE: Aug. 9. @ 9:45 a.m.) - Last night, the Shovel Lake wildfire saw extremely vigorous surface fire and active crown fire that challenged containment efforts.

BC Wildfire Service estimates the fire to be 12,000 hectares.

In the South Division, the south head of the fire expanded approximately six kilometres east. Containment lines on the south end did have some excursions but they were contained by efforts from ground crews and machinery.

In the North Division, the north head of the fire continues to grow to the northeast approximately three kilometres.

Today crews will assess and begin constructing control lines from the North Hannay Hookup Road towards the Sutherland Road network.

An area restriction order has been implemented due to the fire's rate of spread. This restriction will remain in place until noon on Sept. 15, or until further notice.

Today there are 11 firefighters and 51 pieces of heavy equipment on scene. Crews are also supported by 37 personnel and 16 helicopters that are being shared among all complex fires. These crews will be administered to the fires that are of highest risk.

(UPDATE: Aug. 8. @ 10:25 a.m.) - The Shovel Lake wildfire has seen aggressive fire behaviour that has challenged containment efforts.

According to BC Wildfire Service, crews were taken off the line from both divisions due to safety concerns surrounding the 6,850 hectare fire.

In the South Division, the fire expanded south over the bomberger-shovel creek road and east towards Owl Lake. In the North Division, fire activity has changed containment lines. It is expected that these will be contained tomorrow with the support of heavy machinery.

The northeast corner has passed contingency lines and tomorrows crews will be reassessing a new contingency line from Trout Road to Hannay Hookup.

Today, there are 90 firefighters, 14 helicopters, 51 pieces of heavy equipment and 37 supports staff on scene.

(UPDATE: Aug. 4. @ 12:45 p.m.) - The Shovel Lake wildfire is still estimated to be 5,100 hectares.

Crews have been making good progress with the fire and it is now considered to be 15% contained.

Yesterday, fire crews were able to observe reduced fire behaviour.

The Helene Lake guard is now 90% complete and heavy equipment crews will continue working on establishing machine guard along Helene Lake and tying it into Hannay Road.

An ignition specialist is on site today to develop a burn plan.

On scene today, there are 76 firefighters, seven helicopters, 39 pieces of heavy equipment and 39 support staff managing the fire.

(UPDATE: Aug. 3. @ 1:30 p.m.) - The Shovel Lake wildfire is now estimated to be 5,100 hectares.

As of today, 104 firefighters, nine helicopters and 39 pieces of heavy equipment are on scene.

<who>Photo Credit: BC Wildfire Service</who>

Today’s fire crews have been assessing the situation for potential burn-off opportunities, pending favourable weather conditions.

This burn off will entail burning sections of fuel that are within the fire perimeter with the goal of eliminating chances of re-burn and fire spotting potential.

As of now, the fire is considered 10% contained.

(UPDATE: Aug. 2. @ 11:15 a.m.) - More wildfire personnel have been added to help fight the Shovel Lake wildfire.

Today, 104 firefighters, seven helicopters and 33 pieces of heavy equipment are on scene.

<who>Photo Credit: BC Wildfire Service</who>

Th 5,000 hectare fire received a small amount of rain today that did help to slightly reduce activity.

According to BC Wildfire Service firefighters will continue working on establishing containment on the southern flank with machine guard in an attempt to reduce the possibility of spreading the fire through forest fuels.

They also plan on working on the western and northern flanks of the fire by reopening the road system between Nest road and Roof road to support the establishment of containment lines and completing the equipment guard along Helene Lake.

(UPDATE: July 31, @ 11:45 a.m.) - The Shovel Lake wildfire has grown to an estimated size of 5,000 hectares.

As of now, there are 96 firefighters, 20 support staff, seven helicopters and 32 pieces of heavy equipment on scene.

Crews will continue to work to establish containment on the southern flank with machine guard and hose lay.

BC Wildfire Service has implemented an Area Restriction Order to protect public safety due to the rate of spreading. The area restriction is set to remain in effect until noon on Sept. 15, 2018, or until further notice.

(UPDATE: July 30 @ 8:15 p.m.) - A report from earlier this afternoon from the BC Wildfire Service stated that the Shovel Lake fire was approximately 2,000 hectares.

The most recent report, however, now maps the fire at an estimated 4,500 hectares and notes it is being actioned by 50 firefighters, seven helicopters and 17 units of heavy equipment.

On Sunday, the fire was 40% contained but after "very aggressive fire activity [which] resulted in the fire jumping control lines" the wildfire is now 0% contained.

An Incident Management team has been enlisted to handle the fire. BC Wildfire Service is also working with local industry for additional equipment support and more BCWFS resources are en route to support.

Evacuation Alerts for surrounding areas as mentioned in the updates below remain in effect.

The cause of this fire has yet to be determined.

(UPDATED: July 30 @ 6:43 p.m.) - The Shovel Lake wildfire has expanded to cover an estimated 2,000 hectares of land.

BCWFS has 75 personnel on site today with the support of 17 units of heavy equipment, five helicopters as well as airtankers.

An area restriction order has also been set in place for Crown land in the vicinity of the Shovel Lake wildfire, which is burning approximately 30 kilometres northeast of Burns Lake and 25 kilometres northwest of Fraser Lake.

The area restriction, established to protect public safety due to the wildfire's rate of spreading and to assist in deterring interference with fire suppression efforts, will remain in place until noon on Sept. 15 or until the order is rescinded.

<who>Photo Credit: BCWFS</who>

The area is restricted to anyone that does not have prior written authorization from an official designated for the purpose of the Wildfire Act or may only enter if they are:

  • Travelling to or from his or her principle residence that is not under an evacuation order;
  • Travelling to or from leased property for the purposes of accessing a secondary residence or recreational property that is not under an evacuation order;
  • Travelling as a person acting in an official capacity;
  • Travelling for the purpose of supporting wildfire suppression activities;
  • Using a highway as defined in the Transportation Act; and
  • Engaging and/or participating in agricultural activities pertaining to livestock management on private or leased property.

NowMedia will update this story as information becomes available.

(UPDATED: July 29 @ 7:55 p.m.) - The wildfire that sparked near Fraser Lake has now been titled the Shovel Lake wildfire is now measured at approximately 880 hectares. The fire is suspected to be human-caused.

The fire was actioned today with 41 with assistance from 15 units of heavy equipment, one air tanker and six helicopters, reaching a 40% containment on the fire. More ground crews are en route to support.

Crews focused on expanding the guard along the southwest section of the fire and along the sides.

The Shovel Lake fire is currently growing in the north-northeast direction currently located about 70 km southwest of Fort St. James. It is the only active fire in the vicinity of the Fort St. James community.

The Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) has implemented an Evacuation Alert affecting areas north of Highway 16 W, east of Augier Main FSR, east of Sutherland FSR and south of Grizzly Main FSR.

For more information on the Evacuation Alert, click here.

(Original Story: July 28 @ 2:46 p.m.)

The BC Wildfire Service is responding to a new fire located approximately 25km northwest of Fraser Lake.

The fire is estimated to be 291 hectares in size and is burning close to Shovel Lake. A number of homes are located within a 10km radius of the fire, however, they are not currently threatened.

Smoke is highly visible throughout the Fraser Lake area.

There are currently 53 personnel, nine pieces of heavy equipment, two air tankers and five helicopters on scene.

A separate group of air tankers are positioned in Smithers.

BC Wildfire Service are still investigating the cause of the fire.

NowMedia will continue to update the story as more information becomes available.



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