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Rain halts growth of Ibex Valley fire

Fire remains out of control but is now 75 per cent enclosed by dozer guard
A firefighter hoses down burnt areas from a successful hand ignition operation on the fire in the Ibex Valley on July 12. (Haley Ritchie/Wildland Fire)

The crews working on the wildfire in the Ibex Valley west of Whitehorse got a break as rainfall halted the fire’s growth but it may be a temporary reprieve.

About six millimetres of rain fell on the fire zone reducing the fire’s intensity. The fire was held at 1,402 hectares in size throughout the day on July 12 and 13. It remains out of control and a July 13 information bulletin from Yukon Wildland Fire Management noted that, despite the subdued conditions, heat and smoke were visible at the fire site.

A July 12 bulletin from Wildland Fire notes that hot, dry weather is expected to return. It could quickly dry the forest fuels again making it easier for the fire to spread.

The wetter conditions allowed the crews on the fire line to complete work on guards around the fire’s edge. As of the 9 p.m. bulletin from Wildland Fire on July 12, 75 per cent of the fire was was enclosed by dozer guard. By the end of the day July 13, Wildland Fire said a dozer guard on the eastern edge of the fire running parallel to the fire had been completed that day as crews took advantage of the subdued fire.

Controlled burns are still in use to remove fuel between the guard and the fire. Fire information officer Haley Ritchie said controlled burns started from the air were used on the fire in previous days but there’s too much moisture for them to be used again for the moment.

“Even when a guard is in place, back burning is required to remove unburnt fuels from between the guard and the fire. Sometimes that is by hand, with drip torches, and sometimes aerial ignition when feasible,” Ritchie wrote in a July 13 email to the News.

Resources working the fire listed in the July 13 Wildland Fire bulletin are: 30 firefighters, an incident management team, seven pieces of heavy equipment and four helicopters.

“Even if containment is achieved, extensive patrols will be required to identify and extinguish hotspots,” the end of day bulletin on July 13 read.

The evacuation alert situation remains unchanged with properties on both sides of the Alaska Highway in the vicinity affected.

Elsewhere in the territory, the Illusion Creek fire burning south of Little Salmon Lake is approximately 8,700 hectares in size. It is being monitored by Wildland Fire for possible major impacts but otherwise no action is being taken against it with Wildland Fire citing its natural ecological role.

The Reverse Creek fire north of Stewart Crossing is being managed in a similar way. It was last measured at 3,690 hectares in size. An evacuation alert is in place for properties between kilometres 10 and 35 of the Silver Trail but as of the middle of the day on July 12, the fire was still burning away from the highway.

South of the B.C./Yukon border the Little Blue River Fire is burning an area of 30,760 hectares placing an adjacent area on evacuation order and threatening the Stewart Cassiar Highway. The highway remains open but with single-lane alternating traffic and pilot cars in some areas. Drive BC notes the highway could close on short notice.

Contact Jim Elliot at

Jim Elliot

About the Author: Jim Elliot

I’m a B.C. transplant here in Whitehorse at The News telling stories about the Yukon's people, environment, and culture.
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