NEWS
08/27/2015 14:37 EDT | Updated 08/27/2016 01:12 EDT

Washington Stickpin wildfire has B.C. communities watching weather with hope

The threat of wind-blown "ember showers" has left the B.C. communities of Grand Forks and Christina Lake in a smoky limbo, as residents wait to see what happens with the weather.

Resident George Lewis said people in the area are packing and watching for changes in the weather that could bring fresh winds that will fuel the fire, causing it to spread.

"Wind is probably our worst enemy," Lewis said Thursday morning. "Wind is bad for everybody. If it's blowing it away from us, it's blowing it toward somebody else!"

Despite the precarious position, Lewis said most residents are "cautiously optimistic."

"Until the winds actually blow, you don't get really afraid. But once the winds start to blow, you know what's coming," he said.

If winds kick up today, there may be a silver lining. If it clears the heavy smoke, water bombers that have been grounded in recent days could get back in the air to attack the fire.

But showers forecast for later in the week, could also bring lighting strikes, and more fires.

So 1,504 residents wait and watch for what the skies will bring.

Evacuation alert issued

Yesterday emergency officials, including the local fire department, RCMP and search and rescue workers, delivered evacuation alert notices door to door to almost 900 properties in under four hours.

"They did an amazing job," said Dan Derby, emergency co-ordinator, Regional District of the Kootenay-Boundary.

The evacuation alerts mean residents must be ready to leave on a moment's notice, if the fire starts heading their way.

"Most residents were expecting it. They've been following it online or watching the news."

The alert covers Electoral Area D south of the Kettle River and south of Grand Forks, including the industrial/Ruckle area of the City of Grand Forks.

The alert also covers the Ponderosa and Cascade areas of Electoral Area C.

Cross-border firefighting

Wednesday evening people jammed meetings to learn more about the progress of the Stickpin fire, which is burning out of control five kilometres south of the border in Washington state.

The fear is embers blow by the wind could spark spot fires south of Kettle River and east of Grand Forks and spread to the Ponderosa and Cascade areas of Christina Lake.

Forty-eight B.C. firefighters are currently working the northeast side of the Stickpin fire in Washington state. In all, a total of 274 firefighters have been tasked to the entire fire.

Derby praised B.C. and U.S. fire officials for their co-operation.

"They are treating this fire like it's in the middle of B.C. in how they are responding and supporting us." he said.

The wildfire has grown considerably since it was discovered on Aug. 11, and now covers an estimated 195 square kilometres.

The B.C. Wildfire Service said the Stickpin fire is only 17 per cent contained. Firefighting efforts have been hampered by strong southerly winds, low humidity and high temperatures.