Canadians fire crews ready to help US battle Stickpin wildfire

Two unit crews (40 firefighters) are expected to join the fray in the United States fighting the large Stickpin wildfire

Two unit crews (40 firefighters) are expected to join the fray in the United States fighting the large Stickpin wildfire in Washington State. The stickpin fire has grown to 16,380 hectares and is 4.5 km from the border at it’s northern-most point.

“We finalized the agreement with the U.S,” said Fanny Barnard, fire information officer for the Southeast Fire Centre. “We’re anticipating having crews on the fire tomorrow. We have had two 20-person sustained action crews stationed in Grand Forks as well as equipment.”

Barnard said the wildfire management team has been working out the details of having the Canadian firefighters cross the border and “it’s gone really well.”

Barnard said growth of the Stickpin fire by the border has been minimal in the last few days. She added that the objective of the Canadian crews is to tie in where the Americans leave off and create containment lines.

“They’re also going to strengthen the containment lines at the top of the burn off operations,” she said. “People can expect to see more smoke coming off the fire while those burn off operations are under way. We hope to have those operations take place at night to take advantage of higher humidity and lower temperatures.”

The BC Wildfire Service crews will be on the northern portion of the fire on a branch called the Canadian branch.

“They’ll operating as if they were in B.C. but in close cooperation with our colleagues to the south,” said Barnard.

Barnard said there is also the potential for B.C. to lend a hand with air support.

“If that is the case, it’s likely that Christina Lake would be used as a water source for our skimmers due to its proximity and its size,” she said.

B.C. Wildfire Services are urging people at Christina Lake to be aware that there could be a skimmer dipping into the lake.

“There will be a bird-dog officer in an airplane before the skimmer with an alarm,” she said. “If that happens, people can help with suppression efforts by immediately proceeding to the nearest shore and leaving these planes with a wide berth. Suppression efforts could be delayed if there are people in the way.”

Barnard warned that people should expect increased smoke in the next few days.

“We’ve benefited from a north westerly flow, unfortunately, it’s changed and we’ve got a westerly flow,” she said. “There’s going to be a definite increase in smoke in the area.”

She said with temperatures expected to be hot and dry in the next couple of days, and potential dry lightning expected, fire crews will continue to be very busy.

“Unfortunately, the rain has missed the Boundary,” she said. “It’s very dry.”