is about a remote area in west central British Columbia, Canada
called the West Chilcotin. Surrounded by numerous glacial mountain
ranges, alpine lakes teeming with wild Rainbow Trout, and full
of wildlife. Living here goes from no running water or electricity
to spacious log homes with all the conveniences and without
Wilderness Adventures - August, Week 2/2009
you would like to see pictures of wildlife, mountains, lakes,
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go into Archives on the lower left side of this page.
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of the Day.
fire situation in the Anahim Lake and Nimpo Lake region
has settled down considerably and most of the fires are
in mop up stage, while several have been called out.
I understand from the store owner that a bus load of about
100 new firefighers are coming in to the area this coming
week. It may be that Forestry wants to get a thorough
handle on all the fires before it heats up again. Next
week is supposed to bring more high temperatures.
It got down to about three degrees above freezing
last night and has made it into the 20's C today with
lots of sunshine but it's been a little humid
the last couple of days. We received about a half an inch
of rain a day ago so that's certainly helped things out
I don't expect to be writing any articles for the next
week or two, so hope you all enjoy the best part of summer
and I'll get back to writing around the first of September,
if not sooner.
Below is the final bulletin for Bella Coola:
AFFECT TRAFFIC FOR 2 WEEKS IN BELLA COOLA
It's been 2 weeks since the Heckman Pass fire began affecting
traffic along Highway 20 near Bella Coola on a stretch
of road known as 'The Hill'. In spite of the area's fire
activity, transportation crews have traffic flowing smoothly
through the area during day time hours.
The highway is open to all traffic from 8am to 6pm daily
subject to fire behaviour. The fires in the Bella Coola
Valley itself remain stable again today and mop-up operations
continue on the 2 larger fires in the populated lower
valley. Small flare-ups are common and air activities
respond to these on an as-needed basis.
The Central Coast Regional District Emergency Operations
Centre remains open and information is available from
8am to 6pm daily. The number is (250) 982-0062
Forest Fire Situation Anahim Lake Area, August
have quieted down considerably in the past two days with
regards to fires. Temperatures very nearly hit freezing
down by the lake yesterday morning, and there
was definitely frost up away from the lake. It clouded
over last night so it didn't get as cold but it also hasn't
warmed up much during the day either. I'm pretty sure
we never made it much above 14C or 57F today with heavy
black clouds threatening rain for most of the day. We
could see it raining and hailing over the mountains throughout
the day, and we've received a couple of spotty downpours
of hail and rain, but nothing that lasts long. We could
really use a long soaker, but even what moisture we've
gotten helps the fire situation, as do the cooler temperatures.
Forestry has posted written updates on the board up at
the store but I couldn't find an update on size
of fires anywhere on the board this evening. I've
got sizes of fires in the area from the eighth, but nothing
for today so I'm not sure what has grown and what is out,
and you sure don't want to go by the website. There are
fires over 10 hectares that never have shown
up on that site. The last fire to be shown on the Forestry
website is from August 7, and we've acquired a couple
of more fires since then. I see that a fire at Eliguk
Lake is on the mill complex list at the store and I heard
that fire called in a couple of days ago at least. But
between the list at the store four days ago and the one
posted yesterday, there looks to be three more fires that
weren't on there before, including the one at Eliguk.
At least it has to be a lot easier to spot smokes now
than it was. Our air has cleared right out with no smoke
Sadly, visitors to the area have really fallen off in
the past four days. Unfortunately, the lights on
the big sign at Williams Lake indicating a closure at
Heckman Pass are flashing 24 hours a day right now
without indication that the hill is open all day to get
through to Bella Coola. I guess you can't blame people
in RV's and such for turning around when they see that
sign. Why would you travel for 250 miles without knowing
whether you could get through? I told Richard up at the
store to contact Highways and see if they can't put a
notice board up with the flashing lights. He and the other
stores and businesses are the ones really being affected
by the lack of road traffic, and something needs to be
The following is the update from Bella Coola:
Traffic continues to improve along Highway 20 between
Anahim Lake and Bella Coola as scheduled pilot car openings
CHANGE TO FREE TRAFFIC DURING DAYTIME HOURS.
The highway is scheduled to open from 8am to 6pm daily
with the initial group led by pilot car. All travel remains
subject to fire hazard conditions. Travellers are advised
to follow the instructions of traffic control personnel.
The roadblocks located 80kms east of Bella Coola at the
bottom of the famous 'Hill' for east-bound traffic and
30kms west of Anahim Lake at Green river for west-bound
traffic will remain in place during the overnight period.
Portable washroom facilities are provided at both points
for the convenience of travellers waiting to proceed along
Weather Turn Around
seen a remarkable turnaround in the weather the last two
days, something I think we all appreciate including those
guys fighting fires on our behalf. Yesterday it
didn't get any higher than 19C or 66F and today's max
was 15C or 59F and it just dropped over five degrees
just a few minutes ago because it started to rain a bit.
So far we're not seeing enough rain to register, but at
least what we are getting will bring up the humidity quite
a bit. We did have some gusting winds today but that has
settled down a bit which also has to be a help. Thankfully,
while the wind might not help firefighters to contain
fires, it certainly has cleaned up the air. No smell of
smoke, we can see the horizon, including what looked to
be a little fresh snow on one of the taller peaks, and
even the helicopter pilots must appreciate being able
to see where they are bucketing. While we do have
storm clouds, I think it's too cool for a thunder storm
so we shouldn't have to worry about lightning and fresh
fire starts associated with it.
I don't know what there's been for fire starts in the
last couple of days. The Forestry website listed two new
fires up in the Itchas of 200 and 50 hectares, which is
seizable, on their site August 8 but neither of those
fires show up on their site now. Nor do they show up on
the fire maps posted up at the store, so I'm going to
be more inclined to believe what's been printed out by
our friendly Saskatchewan IC and his management team at
the Anahim Lake mill base.
Speaking of which, they have done a marvelous job
of keeping our communities up to date by posting a large
board up at the Nimpo Lake General store. Covered
with plastic to keep it protected from weather, it has
a large map with the fires on it, a list of fires that
they're looking after giving coordinates and size of each,
weather forecasts, lists of helicopters and teams on the
fires, a break down of chain of command and personnel
and just more information than we could possibly hope
to have or need, for that matter. The fact that the team
based out here right now is so forthright with information
regarding the fires burning kind of makes you feel like
a kid under a Christmas tree. Facts, and nothing
but the facts. Instead of everyone having to rely
on rumors, what they can see, and what little bit of information
they can glean here and there to find out the status of
the fires burning in our region, having the information
at hand is a tremendous relief to a lot of community members
and visitors to our area. It has to be a little freaky
for the tourists to be here when it's really smoky, they're
hearing about road closures, they know there are fires
about, but have no information beyond that. I should think
a lot of them would simply clear out, so this is so much
Thank you Saskatchewan IC and team!!!!
Bella Coola has a happy media update, or two actually,
that I'll combine and pass on here.
COOLA WELCOMES BACK TOURIST TRAFFIC With a favourable
change in the weather and another good day on the fire
lines the fire threat in the Bella Coola area continues
to improve. Emergency Officials have added another daily
opening of Highway 20 at Heckman pass to assist travellers
wishing to visit the area. All potential openings are
subject to fire behaviour.
Scheduled one-time openings in the morning and evening
are giving travellers and freight services more time to
passage through the active fire area. Traffic control
points are being moved to Green River west of Anahim Lake
and to the foot of 'The Hill' east of Bella Coola to expedite
transfer of vehicles. Travellers are reminded that all
potential openings remain subject to fire behaviour.
The current weather is providing much needed relief to
fire conditions in the Bella Coola Valley itself as mop-up
continues in the area of two recent events.
Hwy 20 at Heckman Pass remains closed in both directions
80 km east of Bella Coola to 30 km west of Anahim Lake
because of Forest Fire. Two daily potential piloted openings
at 8:00 am and 6:00 pm are subject to fire assessment.
Vehicles must be on site prior to any opening.
Weather conditions continue to look promising for the
crews working the Bella Coola Valley fires. While there
are numerous fires the three of main interest at this
* The Nuxalk Mountain Fire sits at 367 hectares and is
20% contained. Fire crews continue to maintain east and
west guards as helicopters bucket water to hot spots.
Heli-spots are being established to allow ground crews
to be landed in several areas. * The Saloompt Fire is
estimated at 141 hectares and is 10% contained with several
spot fires in the adjacent area. Crews continue to support
the water tender along a dozer guard and will work to
complete a retardant line along the NNW side.
* The Stuie Fire in Tweedsmuir Park was maintained during
the day and the Structural Protection Crew was re-deployed
to another area. A 20 person crew remains on site to work
there you have it. Even the Bella Coola Media Releases
have a positive tone.
Hopefully we will start seeing an increase in our tourism
traffic now as things start to settle down. There's still
the odd spot that's creating a little havoc here and there.
One of our local guide outfitters could see the smoke
and fires up in the Itcha Illgatchuz Range with his trailriding
group this past week and it looks like he'll be canceling
tours in that direction for a week or two now. His camp
is listed on the fire map and it looks like a fire started
around the end of July by lightning is encroaching a bit
on one of his camps. I guess the next couple of
days will give us all a better picture of the overall
fire situation for the area. But for right now,
being able to step outside, enjoy a little sunshine and
clean air, and not see a single smoke in any direction
is a real delight.
Forest Fire Situation/West Chilcotin August 8
than a couple of fires that started in the Itcha Illgatchuz
Range yesterday, There isn't a lot to report today. One
stands at 200 hectares or 500 acres, the other at 50 hectares
or 124 acres but we couldn't see smoke for either from
our place today. Trusting that the Incident Commander
based at Anahim Lake would keep the community updated
if anything came up, I left the radios off today.
After a couple of weeks of listening to the constant
traffic you just get tired of it. While we had
a cloud build up today, it didn't bring any kind of lightning
activity as best as I could tell so I didn't need to be
writing down coordinates.
Today was marvelous compared to yesterday when it came
to air quality. It was reasonably clear out with good
visibility and only occasionally could you smell smoke.
I could actually take the dogs for a brisk walk today
without snuffling and wheezing and sneezing. It was really
You could see clouds on the horizon here and there colored
with orange brown from smoke, but other than that there
was no sign of a smoke columns anywhere. It wasn't until
this evening that the Heckman Pass fire sent smoke over
us from out of the west and did it's magical 'turn
the sun red' thing. The bands of smoke above us
are moving fairly quickly so there may be some upper level
winds that are scooting along and that may have helped
keep our air clear today.
We got down to about 10C or 50F last night and didn't
get up much over 20C or 68 to 70F today. It started getting
hot fast this morning while I was out walking but the
cloud build up did a lot to cool things down, and even
more of a cool down is expected by forecasters over the
next few days.
We had a breeze spring up here and there today and a few
pretty good wind gusts. That type of thing doesn't bode
well for keeping fires within fire guards but hopefully
they weren't seeing gusts like that around any of the
The Bella Coola media update follows:
ORDER RESCINDED - Residents of 61 homes in the Bella Coola
Valley will be happy to know they're going home today.
While forestry crews will continue to work on mop up in
the area, the threat level has decreased enough to allow
emergency officials to invite people back in. An evacuation
alert will remain in place for the affected area and evacuation
alerts in other areas remain in place.
Residents and travellers are advised to slow down and
watch for emergency vehicles as fire crews move through
Hwy 20 at Heckman Pass remains closed in both directions
60 km east of Bella Coola to 16 km west of Anahim Lake
because of Forest Fire. A daily, potential one- time piloted
opening at 8:00 am is subject to fire assessment. Vehicles
must be on site prior to 8:00 am opening. Tourism traffic
is discouraged. · Forestry crews working along Hwy 20
from 7kms east of Bella Coola to 11 km east of Bella Coola
for fire control. Use caution and watch for emergency
FIRE CONDITIONS Favourable winds, cooler temperatures
and high humidity allowed crews to make good progress
on fires yesterday. The forecast for precipitation over
the coming days will allow crews to make further progress
on the fires. While there are numerous fires the three
of main interest at this time are:
* The Nuxalk Mountain Fire sits at just under 400 hectares
today and crews continue in their efforts to build fire
guard and work on hot spots. Ground crews have maintained
fire guards at both ends of the Hwy 20 section, 8 kilometres
east of the Bella Coola townsite. 54 firefighters, 4 helicopters
and 2 pieces of heavy equipment were deployed on the fire.
* The Saloompt Fire - A 150 hectare blaze on the east
slope of Saloompt Mountain is now listed as 10% contained.
This fire has the potential to impact a neighbourhood
of 50 homes located across the Bailey Bridge on the north
side of the Bella Coola River. 24 firefighters and 2 helicopters
worked the fire yesterday.
* The Stuie Fire in Tweedsmuir Park came closer to a critical
telecommunications microwave station however, special
structure protection crews have cleared vegetation from
around the structure which resulted in lowering the fuel
load. They are well prepared to fight the fire if it approaches
the highway area.
The Bella Coola EOC continues to remain open for information
between the hours of 8 am - 8 pm daily until further notice.
The contact number is: (250) 982-2691. For further highway
information, travellers can also log onto: www.drivebc.ca.
to let you folks know, unless there is a change in the
fire situation, I will probably take a break from writing
the blog tomorrow.
This is the start of a new week so to read articles about
the fires in the past week and see pictures of them, go
The purpose of this web site is to draw attention to a
remote area of west central British Columbia. It is a
beautiful area that relies heavily on tourism. The search
engines don't know much about the West Chilcotin, Anahim
Lake, Nimpo Lake or any of the other small communities
in the region and I hope to change that! Even as large
as this site will eventually be, there just isn't enough
room or time in the day to fully describe this incredible
country but I am going to try scraping away at the tip
of the iceberg, so join me!
the links, and see what the West Chilcotin is really like!