USA/ Canada — An “uncontrolled” Washington state wildfire crossed the border into B.C. last night.
With the 4,914-hectare Tatoosh Complex fire raging southeast of Manning Park, the B.C. Forest Service was set to fight it with air and ground crews.
“They’re on it right now,” said Forest Service fire information officer Jeanne Rucker.
She described the fire as “uncontrolled and uncontained” but said the smoke was so dense she had not been able to say exactly how close to the border it was until about 7:30 last night.
“I can confirm for you now that the fire has crossed the border in one spot,” said Rucker, adding that it wasn’t possible to determine how far north the flames had reached, or how large an area was burning in Canada.
“We can’t send people in there, and we can’t send helicopters, because it’s too dangerous right now.”
She said the fire crossed the border at the site of an old fire “from a number of years ago.” It had not entered Manning Park, she said.
As of yesterday morning, the fire was an estimated 750 metres south of the border, and Rucker said it remained “active” all day. The Tatoosh fire is south of Princeton, which is about 50 kilometres north of the U.S. border. The fire, which began Aug. 22, is growing rapidly due to dry, windy conditions.
“If the wind is blowing more towards the west, Manning Park could be threatened,” said Rucker. “And if it goes the other way it will go into Cathedral Park and Snowy Mountain protected area.
“We’ve been watching it now for weeks, but we haven’t had the approval or the authority from the U.S. government to go down there [across the border] and fight it. We’ve had to wait until it comes to the border before we can take any action.”
Rucker said the U.S. finally gave permission late Saturday “to go in and perform certain action on that fire.”
Meanwhile, the much-larger Tripod Complex fire, which has been burning since July 24, has engulfed more than 60,800 hectares and was estimated to be about five kilometres from the B.C. border, south of Osoyoos, yesterday. Both fires have been sending “huge amounts” of smoke “all over the southern half of the province,” said Rucker.
“We’ve got smoke going into Manning Park and into the Fraser Valley. We’ve got smoke coming up the Fraser Canyon into the Cariboo, and into the Similkameen and Okanagan valleys.”