BC Wildfire Service is reporting that the Bush Creek East Wildfire (Lower East Adams Lake) has progressed towards the water in the Little Shuswap Lake area north of Highway 1. A unit crew is working on building guard from the west above structures and as of 8 p.m. there had been little impact at the Little Creek Ranch.
There is still active fire in the community of Celista. There is a structural protection crew on scene at Meadow Creek Road and Evans Road, as of 10:30 p.m.
The Sorrento Fire Department has been battling flames for the last 24 hours and according to BC Wildfire, the blaze in this area is now an interface fire with crews engaged in active structure defence. There will be a night crew on the scene.
For the Lee Creek area, the fire remains upslope but is backing toward Freeman Road. There is a structure protection team on scene.
Crews have been engaged in defence and mop-up around structures in Scotch Creek, on Saturday.
There is currently very minimal visibility in the Phillips Lake area, but the fire has likely progressed southward toward the lake, stated BC Wildfire.
UPDATE: The Lower East Adams Lake (previously K21620) and the Bush Creek East (K21633) wildfires have merged and will be referred to as the Bush Creek East (K21633) fire going forward. https://t.co/GcUhUNGQh1— BC Wildfire Service (@BCGovFireInfo) August 20, 2023
UPDATE: 8 p.m.
The 10,000-hectare Lower East Adams Lake wildfire combined with the Bush Creek East wildfire on Saturday.
As of July 25, an Incident Management Team has been assigned to the Adams Complex (Rossmoore Lake, Lower East Adams Lake, and Bush Creek East wildfires).
The Bush Creek/ Adams Complex fire is now an estimated 41,041 hectares.
There were 80 firefighters on scene during the day assisted by 15 helicopters and 24 pieces of heavy equipment.
There are currently 122 structure protection personnel responding to this incident.
End of day update August 19, 2023— Columbia Shuswap Regional District (@ColShuRegDist) August 20, 2023
The Columbia Shuswap Regional District would like to give a massive thank you to the firefighters and volunteers working tirelessly throughout this difficult time. https://t.co/8P3UMUZfQ1#CSRD #SEP #CSRDStrong pic.twitter.com/9jDYLvNQKn
After a harrowing day and night of firefighting at two major wildfires in the Shuswap on Friday, conditions aren’t as conducive to fire growth Saturday — but affected communities are far from being in the clear.
The 10,000-hectare Lower East Adams Lake wildfire has combined with the Bush Creek East wildfire, and more fire growth is expected in the coming days.
Structures including the Scotch Creek fire hall are believed to have been destroyed. As of Saturday afternoon, the CSRD was unable to say how many structures have been affected by the wildfires.
Karley Desrosiers, fire information officer with the BC Wildfire Service, says winds are expected to top out around 15 to 20 km/h Saturday, making for much more manageable conditions than yesterday, when winds hit 60 to 70 km/h in some areas.
“What we are expecting to see (Saturday) is those sustained milder winds with the increased hot and dry temperatures,” Desrosiers said.
“One positive that did help to mitigate fire behaviour slightly overnight was we had very low temperatures on the Bush Creek East fire, “she added. “We had temperatures measured at about 5 C with relative humidity around 85 per cent, so good overnight recovery which is something that we haven’t seen for quite some time. So that was able to calm things down overnight and reduce the impact that maybe we would have otherwise seen.”
However, increased temperatures and winds later the day Saturday have likely increased fire activity and there is still potential for “extreme fire behaviour,” Desrosiers said.
A BC Wildfire crew is currently stationed on the north side of Little Shuswap Lake in the Quaaout Lodge area, working to slow the wildfire’s spread towards the southwest.
The fire is still spreading eastward towards Celista, an evacuated area. Meanwhile, the fire behaviour in Lee Creek is significantly lower than the Celista and Scotch Creek areas, where the fire continues to grow on a ridge upslope of Shuswap Lake.
“The impact to Lee Creek is less substantial fire-wise than Scotch Creek and Celista,” Desrosiers said.
A 10-kilometre planned ignition line from Holding Road to the Scotch Creek area has held since it was lit on Thursday, Desrosiers confirmed.
A BC Wildfire Service camp of up to 450 firefighters, emergency personnel and support staff was evacuated from the Squilax air strip Friday afternoon. Those in the camp were relocated to Kamloops. BC Wildfire Service is hoping to re-establish another camp in the Shuswap soon, but there is currently no word on when that will happen.
The fire has impacted the Holding Road bridge, and that road is currently not passable. Other bridges along Squilax-Anglemont Road were not impacted by the fire and had structure protection equipment set up on them Friday.
“The fire did reach the bridges last night and we had firefighters doing active fire suppression on those bridges, and the bridge coming into Scotch Creek is passable,” Desrosiers said.
Evacuation orders and alerts in the Shuswap may change based on fire activity Saturday, Desrosiers cautioned.
She stressed the importance of obeying alerts and orders to allow firefighters to focus on firefighting.
“It really does make our job dramatically easier when people (follow alerts and orders),” she said. “I know it’s incredibly stressful for residents, but it allows the firefighters and the first responders to do their job and focus on firefighting as opposed to supporting those evacuations. It’s incredibly taxing on our personnel.”