FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Fire crews with the BC Wildfire Service say that cooler temperatures and calmer winds have slowed the growth rate of the Tommy Lakes Fire burning north of Fort St. John.
Fire Information Officer Rosalie MacAuley said that after several days of intense growth spurred by high winds, the calmer air and cooler temperatures Tuesday have both resulted in a drop in fire activity. She said that the fire now sits at 22,659 hectares, and is 10 percent contained.
According to MacAuley, there are now 190 firefighters, 9 helicopters, and 18 pieces of heavy equipment working to battle the flames, and crews are currently working to protect oil and gas infrastructure, as well as a small farming community near the fire’s eastern flank. On the fires northern flank, crews are continuing to build fireline east of Tommy Lakes road and along North Nig road. Other crews are continuing to build a fireline working southwest and northeast of Beatton Road.
In the south, crews are building a guard west of the Tommy Lakes Road, and employing direct attack on the southeast flank. On the southwest flank, they are also installing sprinklers on the South Nig Road guard in preparation for possible controlled ignitions.
MacAuley said that while the fire did cross the CN Rail tracks along its southeast edge, crews have found that the rail line itself was undamaged in the fire. She said that firefighters are also working to protect any backup rail ties that may be sitting along the tracks.
The weather forecast is currently calling for cooler temperatures for the rest of the week, with a chance of showers and a risk of thunderstorms on Wednesday. MacAuley explained that crews are welcoming the cooler temperatures and precipitation, but that thunderstorms could cause increased fire activity due to the presence of strong wind gusts near convective clouds.