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Crews remain hard pressed to contain ‘very active’ VanJam Fire Zone

The VanJam Fire Zone is saying goodbye to the 215 South African Firefighters who assisted in the area for the past few weeks.

Fire Information Officer, Marg Drysdale told Vista Radio it’s a big blow to their efforts as the area is still pretty active in terms of the volume of blazes.

“We have 26 active fires, four of those are wildfires of note. We currently have 13 that are out of control, seven under control, and six being held. It’s an extremely active fire zone right now.”

“They are going to Prince George (South African firefighters) to have a final dinner this evening and then they are going to be on their way home. It’s a very large logistical challenge to get that many people halfway around the world to help us fight fires.”

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Drysdale added mitigation efforts are being stymied at times due to hunters or those recreating trying to access the Kluskus and Bobtail Forest Service Roads.

“We understand the importance of people hunting and enjoying the outdoors at this time of year. However, in some cases, they are not checking evacuation orders and we are finding people are trying to access areas that may not be safe to be in and we are trying to move them along.”

“For the Kluskus Road, we have been very lucky people are respectful and calling out the road channels but it is still extremely busy. The Bobtail is very active right now and we are asking anybody who is utilizing those roads if they do not have to be there, to go to a different location.”

In terms of the weather, Drysdale noted Mother Nature has been less than accommodating.

“We didn’t get the rain that we expected – particularly on the Great Beaver Lake fire. That fire continues to be relatively active – we have not seen any precipitation in a number of days.”

“Danger trees are going to be a feature of the landscape for a period of time. Trees that have been compromised in and around a fire and if there are going to be winds in the next couple weeks, they are going to be a factor.”

The Great Beaver Lake wildfire remains the largest in the VanJam Fire Zone at 46,632  followed by the Tatuk Lake blaze, which is 44,641 hectares.

Next up is North Lucas Lake, which is 34,861 hectares in size. The smallest one is Whitefish Lake at over 61-hundred hectares.

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