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Hudson's Hope fireproofs wood roofs

District to tarp off its heritage buildings against fire, but only as a precaution
macdonald house - circa 1930 (hudson's hope)
The District of Hudson's Hope is beginning to protect its heritage buildings, as a precaution, from wildfire embers. The MacDonald House, a pioneer log home circa 1930, has a wooden shake roof.

The District of Hudson’s Hope continues to watch the Battleship Mountain wildfire well outside of its townsite limits, but it’s one that can’t be taken lightly, based on the fire's unpredictable behaviour.

“We’ve been in constant contact with the B.C. Wildfire Service. They’ve been updating us, briefing our EOC (Emergency Operations Centre) staff on a daily basis,” said the community’s mayor, Dave Heiberg, in an in-person conversation with Alaska Highway News Tuesday.

“We’re trying to mitigate for the worst. What we’re going to see now from the wildfire service is moving more resources into the area. I think probably because the Kelly Lake fire is more under control.”

Using the “better to be safe” analogy, Heiberg said one of resources to be introduced will be structural protection personnel.

“If you go around town, you’ll start to see some of the building roofs being tarped off.”

With a number of heritage buildings in the town’s downtown core with wooden shake roofs, the obvious concern would be flying embers.

On Tuesday, the volunteer fire department could been seen starting the process of applying plastic to roofs.

“They’re quite flammable (wood shake roofs), so we just want to protect them.”

Heiberg reiterates that there’s no indication the fire will reach inside the town's boundaries, it’s only a precaution.

“When the fire hit the reservoir Saturday night, it was quite visible from the 12 Mile (road) side, which is probably five kilometres across the water. Thank goodness, there wasn't any spotting on the other side.”

On Saturday, the district issued an evacuation order for the Carbon Lake area, put an evacuation alert in place for the remainder of the district, and instituted a local state of emergency.

Heiberg said the local state of emergency will stay up until at least this coming Saturday, unless the BCWS determines the danger is over.

The lightning-caused fire, as of Wednesday morning, was estimated at 13,224 hectares.

48 firefighters are assigned with the blaze and 17 structure protection personnel.

18 helicopters and 19 pieces of heavy equipment are also being shared between the six fires in the Battleship Complex.

The B.C. Wildfire Service provided this update Wednesday on the Battleship Mountain fire:

• Structure protection personnel are working diligently and are developing a response plan for the WAC Bennett Dam and continue maintenance of established structure protection apparatus in the Carbon Lake area. Additional areas are being assessed by structure protection personnel as needed. Personnel are working closely with BC Hydro to continue establishing familiarization at the WAC Bennett Dam.

• Crews on the west flank of the fire are working on creating fuel breaks in preparation for a potential ignition operation in the coming days by removing unburnt material between the control line and the edge of the fire. Two Unit Crews are working along the Johnson Creek Forest Service Road northeast of Carbon Lake to create fuel free zones on the east flank of the fire, by removing all the fuel down to mineral soil.

• Helicopters are continuing bucketing operations along the south and west of Battleship Mountain. Operations staff are developing an ignition plan for the southwest corner of the fire to build containment in that area as conditions allow.

The Wildfire Service provided this update on the ignition operation at the Bearhole Lake fire near Kelly Lake:

"The ignition operation on the Bearhole Lake wildfire was partially completed yesterday with successful results.

"Crews were stationed along roads that were acting as control lines in preparation for any potential spotting.

"The approximately 400-hectare ignition operation stayed within the predetermined area.

"If conditions are favourable today, the remainder of the ignition operation will continue."

That fire is listed at 6,037 hectares in size.

— with files from Matt Preprost

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