Lightning strike touches off fire on Mount Macpherson; regional fire update

A lightning strike touched off what still appears to be a very small fire on Mount Macpherson late Thursday afternoon.

Wafts of blue smoke from a lightning-caused fire on Mount Macpherson is visible in the centre-right of the frame. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer

A lightning strike on Mount Macpherson late Thursday afternoon has started a small fire on the mountain, a popular recreation site for hikers, mountain bikers and winter sports.

Smoke from the small fire is visible from downtown Revelstoke, although it appears the fire is small at this point. It is located on the upper slopes of the mountain and appears to be above hiking, biking and Nordic skiing trails on the mountain.

The lightning storm on July 20 was accompanied by brief but heavy showers. Communications staff from the Southeast Fire Centre were not immediately available to answer questions about plans to deal with the fire.

The fire is the latest in a busy day for crews in the Southeast Fire Centre.

Currently, crews are working on 18 active wildfires throughout the Southeast Fire Centre. None of the fires are immediately threatening communities or structures.

In a statement posted Thursday afternoon, fire authorities said many of the fires are being monitored. “Due to the remote location of some of these wildfires, a “modified response” strategy is being used where appropriate. This means that BC Wildfire Service personnel carefully monitor the fire’s activity to ensure that it remains within a specific area and meets land management guidelines.”

Three of these modified response wildfires are located in the Kootenay Fire Zone and Arrow Lake Fire Zone:

-A 70-hectare wildfire is burning on Winter’s Peak in the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Provincial Park and Protected Area on the northeast side of Kootenay Lake. Although this wildfire is burning in a remote area at a high elevation, smoke from this fire is visible from the communities of Kaslo, Argenta, Johnsons Landing and surrounding areas.

-Smoke from a 70-hectare wildfire burning on the west side of Duncan Lake in the Glacier Creek area may be visible from Duncan Lake and the Meadow Creek region.

-A one-hectare wildfire is burning in extremely rough terrain five kilometres northeast of Galena Bay (in the Mackenzie Creek area). Due to potential danger to first responders, this fire will be closely monitored.

Hot and dry conditions are forecast through next week and the potential for more thunderstorms this evening, the Southeast Fire Centre is urging the public to be extra cautious.

The Southeast Fire Centre is currently experiencing very dry conditions and elevated fire danger ratings. The fire danger rating is “high” to “extreme” throughout the region. A campfire ban remains in place.

“From April 1 to July 20, 2017, the Southeast Fire Centre has responded to 131 wildfires that have burned 286 hectares. Ninety-one of these fires were caused by lightning, while the remaining 40 were human-caused. Last year on this day, a total of 49 fires had burned 316 hectares,” said the fire information officer in a statement.

To report a wildfire or open burning violation, call *5555 on a cellphone or 1 800 663-5555 toll-free. For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, visit: www.bcwildfire.ca

Aaron Orlando is a Revelstoke-based journalist who serves as creative director of revelstokemountaineer.com and Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine. He's been on the news beat in Revelstoke for the past 14 years, serving in senior editorial roles. If you have aaron@revelstokemountaineer.com or call/text him at 250-814-8710.