Firefighters to continue to put out ‘hot spots’ on Embleton for next few weeks

A photo of the Embleton Mountain wildfire as of July 19. Photo submitted.

Firefighters are continuing work on the Embleton Mountain wildfire, but at this point, they appear to have wrestled control of the blaze and are now in the process of extinguishing “hot spots” located near the fire’s containment lines. 

“Embleton is still classified as out of control. But honestly, as long as all the weather conditions are the same, it’s looking like it’s trending towards where we can change the status,” said Forrest Tower, fire information officer for the BC Wildfire Service (BCWS).

As of now, the Embleton Mountain wildfire stands at 920 hectares and is still categorized as out of control on BCWS’ wildfires of note page.

Tower said the fire is largely a rank one or rank two blaze, meaning it’s smoldering with smoke, but trees are not actively candling.

As of July 25, the fire still had 28 firefighters, including two structural protection crews working on it.

The role of Sun Peaks Fire Rescue has been reduced, but the fire department stands ready to assist if need be.

Tower said going forward, the fighting model is going to see BCWS firefighters oversee contracted crews. 

Crews are working on “hot spot extinguishment” and working towards extinguishing the entire perimeter, 50 feet inwards.

To do this work, BCWS uses drones to conduct a high-level infrared scan, which is then used to identify “hot spots” for firefighters who put them out with water. 

It’s laborious work that involves digging deep into the ground to make sure that these hot spots are extinguished, he explained. 

Water is accessed from a mobile water truck or by a pump system if there is a waterbody in close proximity. 

“It’s really just a kind of process of elimination, of finding those hotspots by themselves and then using that drone scan to assist as well,” said Tower. 

Despite some scary moments, the BCWS was able to make fairly quick work of the Embleton Mountain wildfire, and thankfully no properties were destroyed. 

Asked to reflect on how the fight went, Tower said it benefited from the significant resources the BCWS was able to muster, with the Embleton Mountain wildfire being managed by the Sparks Lake Incident Management team.

“We had the ability to put a lot of crews on this fire when it was pretty active,” said Tower, adding the joint base camp is nearby. 

The Sparks Lake Wildfire is proving to be a challenging blaze for BCWS and is now estimated at an astonishing 58,172 hectares. 

Tower added that while last Monday night was challenging, the weather was largely helpful, without the heavy winds that can make fighting wildfires so challenging. 

He said gusting winds—sometimes up to 80 kilometres per hour—have been the primary challenge for fires this summer. 

“Not every variable was challenging,” he said of Embleton. 

“There were things that helped out.”

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