Heavy smoke from proactive burning


People living in the communities of Canal Flats, Elkford and Invermere may notice large columns of smoke in the air as a result of proactive burning starting on Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, around the lightning-caused wildfires that make up the White Complex.

Several of these wildfires are located in very steep and dangerous terrain and these burn-offs are necessary to limit the potential growth and direction of the fires. The objective is to guide the fire toward control lines at the valley bottoms where containment can be established. No communities or structures are threatened by any of these fires at this time.

Although the fire danger has dropped in most of Southeast British Columbia, it remains “Moderate” to “High” in the areas surrounding the White Complex. The Southeast Fire Centre is urging the public to be extra cautious with campfires in the backcountry. All person-caused fires are preventable and these incidents may affect the ability of the firefighting crews to respond to naturally occurring fires.

The Southeast Fire Centre would like to remind aircraft operators that when smoke or flame are identified in a wildland area the surrounding airspace (over a forest fire area, or over any area that is located within five nautical miles of a forest fire, at an altitude of less than 915 metres or 3,000 feet above ground level) automatically becomes flight restricted under the authority of Section 601.15 of the Canadian Aviation Regulation.

As per Section 601.17 of the regulation, all air traffic, including drones wishing to access the restricted air space of a wildfire incident may do so only with the permission of the regional wildfire coordination centre responsible for managing that fire. Aircraft will be granted access to restricted airspace only when and if it is safe to do so.

Area Restriction Orders, lifted and maintained:

An Area Restriction Order for areas near a group of fires east of Canal Flats has been rescinded effective immediately.

The following forest service roads are now open:

* The main Whiteswan Forest Service Road from Highway 93/95 junction to the 32-km marker.

* The entire Kootenay Forest Service Road.

* The entire White-Rock Forest Service Road.

Access roads leading to Whiteswan Provincial Park and Lussier Hot Springs are now open, and the park will open effective immediately.

Access to the White River Forest Service Road via the Whiteswan Forest Service Road will be closed past the 32-km marker to the general public due to fire fighting activities in the area.

An Area Restriction Order put in place on Aug. 8, 2014, for areas near a group of fires northwest of Elkford will remain in place until further notice to protect the safety of fire fighting personnel and the public.

This area restriction includes the following:

* The entire East Fork of the White River Forest Service Road (FSR) from approximately 46.0 km to Munroe Lake.

* The Bull River FSR south to approximately 95 km.

* The entire Crown land portion of the Crossing Creek Trail east to Round Prairie.

No structures or communities are immediately threatened by any of these fires at this time.

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