Watch planes quickly tackle a wildfire near Peachland

Initial attack is the focus for challenging season.

BC Wildfire officials are predicting a very challenging season ahead following record heat in May and dry conditions that make much of the province prone to fire starts.

Lightning caused wildfires have started early this year because of the rapid snow melt at elevation and around half a million hectares have already burned, much of it in the north and northeast of BC.

That figure is dramatically higher than the 10-year average of 20,000 hectares that burns by this stage of spring.

Over 1,000 crew are currently deployed dealing with 82 wildfires in BC and the agency has requested more international resources.

But the heavy focus this fire season is very much on dealing with wildfires as soon as they are reported.

“Our best chance of success … is to really focus on initial attack,” Cliff Chapman, the director of provincial pperations for the BCWS said in a media conference Thursday. “When we first get a report of a fire it’s to really attack that fire as aggressively as we can from the air, from the ground, and with crew resources.

“If you see smoke, even if you think it’s been reported, please call it in. Please let us know if you see smoke on the landscape.”

The number to call is *5555 to report any wildfire.

The attention to initial attack was exemplified in the extensive aerial attack on the wildfire burning in the mountains around 6.5 km west of Peachland.

It is now considered ‘held’ by the BC Wildfire Service (BCWS), meaning it is not likely to spread beyond predetermined boundaries under current conditions.

BCWS reported 60 ground personnel working on the Pigeon Creek blaze, being supported by helicopters and skimmer airtankers as necessary.

Minimal fire behaviour and growth has been observed on the wildfire since June 5, 2023. It was initially reported June 4.

This incident is highly visible to Highway 97C, the Connector, but is not impacting travel in the area.

BCWS has released video taken from above the flight lines of a fleet of Air Tractor 802 Fire Boss aircraft as they worked the south/east flanks of the fire.

Each plane drops an average of 580 gallons (2200 litres) per drop, per aircraft.

The six aircraft dropped a total of 425,000 gallons (approx. 1.6 million litres) on the wildfire on Tuesday.

Check out the video to see the carefully coordinated flight patterns taken by the specialized aircraft.

Published 2023-06-08 by Glenn Hicks

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