USA/ Canada — The B.C. part of the big Tatoosh forest fire near Manning Park more than doubled in size overnight and is burning out of control, fire officials said Tuesday.
The massive fire is burning about 21 square kilometres just southeast of the park, with thick smoke hampering firefighting efforts.
Forest Service spokesman Jeff Moore said smoke is preventing firefighters from getting too close to the blaze, which is burning about 200 kilometres east of Vancouver.
It’s a very dangerous situation for fire crews, he said, noting that burning embers jumped ahead of the main fire and started a new one on Monday.
“The biggest single issue there is the safety of the responders. Had we had people on the ground in front of that fire, they may well have been stuck between two large fires.”
Moore said the current strategy to slow the fire includes a controlled burn of trees in front of the fire, to starve it of fuel as it advances.
Fire has been burning for 2 weeks
The fire started as a lightning strike in Washington state on Aug 22, and moved across the border over the weekend as a six-kilometre-wide wall of flames.
While it’s still not threatening any homes or buildings in B.C., about 180 families in the tiny community of East Gate, at the eastern end of Manning Park, are prepared to flee if the fire changes direction.
So far, the fire has destroyed 125 square kilometres of forests on both sides of the border.
Meanwhile, a second big Washington state fire the Tripod Complex fire continues to burn south of the B.C. communities of Keremeos and Osoyoos, sending smoke across the border into the South Okanagan. It has destroyed at least 62,000 hectares.