Elephant Hill wildfire stabilizing, winds moving fire away from Clinton

By Chad Klassen
August 2, 2017 - 5:09pm Updated: August 3, 2017 - 4:02pm

KAMLOOPS — Mother Nature is giving the 361 firefighters a break while working on the Elephant Hill wildfire that's burning northeast of the Village of Clinton.

The fire remains stable with no new growth on Wednesday, remaining at 84,000 hectares. According to the B.C. Wildfire Service, it's also moving away from Clinton with winds have shifting the fire away from the community.

However, fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek says a controlled burn gone wrong on Tuesday contributed to more growth in the Loon Lake area.

"It's come in on our place in probably two or three different directions now over the last two weeks," said John McNamer, who owns a 200-acre ranch at 8 Mile south of Clinton. "There's been times where we thought it was past, but it just keeps coming back."

McNamer says the controlled burning is a concern, especially with the winds making for unpredictable fire behaviour around his place.

The TNRD says the volitility of the fire may keep Clinton residents, and those near Loon Lake, out of their home for a few more days. 

"The fire has been very unpredictable. We do monitor it every day with the B.C. Wildfire Service, so we look at all the evacuation orders every day to see what can be changed," noted Debbie Sell with the TNRD emergency operations centre. "Right now, it is just not safe for people to return to their home."

Chris Watt owns a ranch on Loon Lake Road and hasn't been home for nearly three weeks since the area was evacuated. But Watt says when the fire got out of control near her ranch on Tuesday, members of the Bonaparte Indian Band saved her 20 cattle that were threatened by flames. 

"At 9:30 at night, our friends at the Bonaparte got together and arranged three trailers and transport for our cattle," said Watt. "They went through the fire and grabbed them and were out in 45 minutes. It was a relief. It was unbelieveable."

The fire has also interrupted people's travel plans through the B.C. Interior with Highway 97 closed at the junction of Highway 99. 

Curtis Phelps is going home to Alaska after visiting family in Washington State. He was turned around and had to go through Kamloops and the Yellowhead Highway to go north. 

"It is [frustrating], only because B.C. there's limited radio and maps," he said. "It's good the workers are very helpful. But we'll be going 100-150 miles out of our way."

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