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Pemberton fires still not contained

Ground crews cutting fire breaks, will consider burn off to reduce fuel load

The fires in the Upper Pemberton Meadows, on the east side of Camel Back Mountain and on Copper Dome Mountain, are still not contained but the Copper Dome fire is producing less smoke and visibility has improved.

A release from the Coastal Fire Centre Saturday said that "good recoveries" had been made Friday evening but some farm structures remain threatened.

At 1:30 p.m. Friday an evacuation order was issued for residents living north of Lillooet River from 9440 Hurley River Road up to and including the Howe Sound School District Outdoor School. The Hurley River Forest Service Road and the Ryan River Forest Service Road are closed.

The Squamish-Lillooet Regional District also issued an evacuation alert for the Upper Pemberton Meadows on Friday. The Copper Dome fire, on the south slope above Tenquille Creek, and the Camel Back fire present "a potential danger to life safety and property" in the area north of the intersection of Wilson Road and Pemberton Meadows Road.

The Copper Dome fire, estimated at 325 hectares, was started by lightning on Saturday, July 25.

The Camel Back East fire is estimated at 250 hectares. It too was started by lightning last Saturday.

Fire crews built a fuel-free zone approximately 1 km in length on the lower side of the Camel Back fire Friday. This joins up existing road systems and today fire crews are laying a hose line along the fuel-free zone.

Fire protection specialists will also assess the possibility of burning off some of the western flank of the Camel Back fire today, to reduce the fuel load in the area. Burning off of fuel load may be done later in the week if the option proves viable.

At the Copper Dome fire, crews will also be building a 1 km fuel-free zone on the lower side of the fire. Specialists will today assess the possibility of burning off some of the lower slope fuel load.

There are currently 17 helicopters and 120 firefighters fighting blazes in the Pemberton Zone Operation Centre, which extends from D'Arcy to Lions Bay. More than 26 new fires were started in the zone in a 24-hour period from Thursday afternoon to Friday afternoon.

The Coastal Fire Centre says, "resources are being shared on a priority basis between fires in the region."

A public meeting on the fire situation will be held tonight, Aug. 1, at 7 p.m. at the Meadows Community Centre, 7467 Pemberton Meadows Road.

A public information line has been established at 1-866-417-4132 for area residents to call for update information. SLRD staff is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer calls at the SLRD office at 1-800-298-7753.

Meanwhile, the Crystal Ridge fire on Blackcomb Mountain is 50 per cent contained. The fire, which was started by a lightning strike Thursday afternoon, is still smoking and there are some hotspots around the perimeter but the fire is showing "reduced behaviour" today.

The incident management team hopes to have the 30-hectare fire 100 per cent contained in three days.

There are 93 firefighters working the Crystal Ridge fire. The fire is "being hand guarded to keep a light hand on the land and also because of the steep and rocky ground."

Helicopters will be bucketing the fire to assist firefighters.