Wildfires continue to rage across region 

Air quality advisory issued for the Sea to Sky

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BC WILDFIRE SERVICE - BATTLING BLAZE A firefighter works to contain a hotspot at the Elaho wildfire west of Pemberton.
  • Photo courtesy of the BC Wildfire Service
  • BATTLING BLAZE A firefighter works to contain a hotspot at the Elaho wildfire west of Pemberton.

Fire suppression efforts continue to be hampered by challenging conditions, with several wildfires near Pemberton spreading at alarming rates.

"These fires are growing rapidly and have therefore changed drastically in size," read a release from the BC Wildfire Service on Sunday, July 5.

The Elaho wildfire, which has been burning since mid-June, has reached over 20,000 hectares in size due to gusty conditions and is continuing to spread eastward down the valley.

Due to extreme conditions, containment efforts were not possible on Sunday, but crews were able to retrieve a number of assets from the area most at risk, specifically several pieces of heavy equipment. An operational camp at the base of the fire was also successfully evacuated.

Crews will be working with heavy equipment to establish "contingency guards," or burn-off lines, around the blaze on Monday.

There are 120 firefighters and three helicopters on the scene.

The Boulder Creek wildfire is now estimated at 5,000 hectares. Initial estimates from the weekend put it at 12,000 hectares, but better intelligence from the field provided a more accurate figure. It remains zero-per-cent contained, according to provincial fire officials.

"Today, crews will be working on identifying contingency lines outside of the fire perimeter in order to slow the rate of spread," read a release on Monday.

If visibility in the area improves, helicopters will support ground crews in cooling down hot spots and keeping the worksite safe.

Although weather conditions have improved slightly, the fire is burning in heavily treed areas and continues to pick up momentum.

Personnel will be in the area Monday setting up sprinkler systems to protect vulnerable infrastructure.

Thirteen firefighters and four helicopters remain on the scene at Boulder Creek.

An evacuation order first issued by the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) on Saturday, July 4, remains in effect for both sides of the Lillooet Forest Service Road, from the nine-kilometre mark to the top of Pemberton Valley.

A number of worksites have been shut down around Boulder Creek, including the now-evacuated site of the Innergex IPP.

The Nahatlatch wildfire, meanwhile, has grown to roughly 5,000 hectares in size.

A thick haze of smoke has blanketed the Sea to Sky, and much of B.C.'s coastal region, as several wildfires continue to burn around the province.

An air quality advisory for the Sea to Sky was issued Monday, July 6, by the Ministry of Environment in collaboration with Vancouver Coastal Health.

Smoke conditions will likely vary as winds, fire behaviour and temperatures change, and are expected to continue until weather conditions change, according to the advisory.

The Ministry advises people to avoid strenuous outdoor activities, and consult a physician if you experience any of the following symptoms: difficulty breathing, chest pain or discomfort, and a sudden onset of coughing or airway irritation.

Exposure to smoke is especially a concern for infants, the elderly, and those who have existing medical conditions like diabetes, and lung or heart disease.

For more information and tips on staying safe, visit www.bcairquality.ca.

The fire danger rating remains at extreme in Whistler, meaning no outdoor fires of any kind are permitted.

Residents should report all fires in Whistler immediately by dialing 911. Outside the resort, fires should be reported to the BC Wildfire Service at 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 toll-free on most cell networks.

Stay up to date on current wildfire conditions at www.bcwildfire.ca.

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