A forecast of cloudier, cooler weather in the next 24-48 hours might just be what crews need to get upper hand on two large wildfires in the northeast, but it's tempered with strong, gusty winds.
According to the latest outlook from Environment Canada, the region could see up to 25 millimetres of rain in northern sections of the Peace and up to 40mm in the south by Saturday evening.
That same forecast also includes sustained winds of 20 kilometres-an-hour with gusts up to 50 km/h during the same time frame.
As of Friday morning, the B.C. Wildfire Service had estimated the Battleship Mountain blaze to be at 30,242 hectares, the added size from yesterday attributed to fire guards.
“A planned ignition is an area of the fire where we're trying to bring it down to a workable area or guard, so we're using planned ground or aerial ignitions,” said fire information officer Taylor Colman.
“From a helicopter, they're able to drop, what we call, these little PSD balls, which ignite once they hit the ground. We drop those to remove the available fuels between the fire and the guard.”
Progress was made Thursday in holding the eastern flank of the fire, four kilometres from the WAC Bennett Dam and eight kilometres from the townsite of Hudson's Hope, at bay.
And, while temperatures Friday will only be in the mid-teens, it's the continued gusty winds that will determine a course of attack.
“It's a little bit cloudy and certainly a lot lower temperatures than we've seen in the last couple of days. Not really anticipating any high winds (today) but we could see some precipitation later this afternoon and into tomorrow,” said Colman.
“It's definitely favourable but that doesn't mean we stop anything that we're doing. It sort of helps us get ahead.”
68 firefighters and 20 pieces of heavy machinery are part of the contingent working to bring down the 302-square-kilometre fire.
The region's other wildfire of note is in Bearhole Lake Provincial Park east of Tumbler Ridge.
It's estimated to have burned 6,472 hectares.
"We've continued to see warm, dry conditions throughout the week," said fire information officer Karley Desrosiers.
"As a result, we saw fire activity pick up in the afternoon most days."
"On Tuesday, we did an 80-hectare planned ignition on the north flank. It went really well. Crews are now working in that area to patrol and mop up. Yesterday, there was a 40ha ignition on the south flank to bring the perimeter to a machine guard that was already established on the south flank. That one also went really well. Crews will be in there today mopping up and patrolling."
Desrosiers said 124 firefighters are currently assigned to this particular wildfire.
"We are expecting rain today," she added.
"We were seeing temperatures five to six degrees hotter than what we'd expect for this time of year, but we're now expecting temperatures are going to drop and remain close to seasonal going forward. So, the next couple of weeks are going to be a lot cooler with good overnight recovery. Different models are showing different amounts of rain. Anywhere from 10 up to 30mm."
Highway 52E, meantime, was fully re-opened to traffic Thursday night, a sign of the progress that crews are making on the blaze.
An area restriction into the park for the public remains in place as a precaution, but an easing of the rules might come as early as noon tomorrow, said Desrosiers, depending on the conditions.