Snakes rattling up trouble for wildfire crews near Keremeos

Terrain near the Snowy Mountain fire, 14 kilometres southeast of Keremeos, is home to rattlesnakes

A beware of Rattlesnakes sign in the Chopaka area southeast of Keremeos where wildfire crews are working.(Photo courtesy of BC Wildfire)

As if scorching temperatures, steep slopes and strong winds weren’t enough to contend with, BC Wildfire Crews fighting the snowy Mountain fire near Keremeos also have to keep a close eye out for rattlesnakes.

Claire Allen, information officer for BC Wildfire, said since crews arrived to fight the fire, firefighters have run into numerous large rattlesnakes.

“I’m from Kamloops, so it’s not uncommon for me to see snakes, but these snakes are quite large, they’re definitely healthier here,” she said.

This time of year, the preferred habitat of Western Rattlesnakes include tall grassy areas where they can easily feast on voles, mice, pocket gophers, ground nesting birds, and other vermin. That also enjoy rocky terrain where they can bask in the warmth of the Similkameen sun, but also find a quick hiding spot to keep them safe from predators.

Related: Update: Smokier skies expected near Snowy Mountain fire

An aerial photo of the terrain near the Snowy Mountain fire near Keremeos during a burnoff Aug. 7, 2018.(Photo courtesy BC Wildfire)

The valley floor southeast of Kermeos where BC Wildfire firefighters are doing a lot of work to keep the community of Chopaka safe offers up both tall grassy areas and rocky terrain – perfect conditions for run ins with rattlesnakes.

“We’re in one of their natural habitats. They’re seeing quite a few of them in long grasses,” she said.

Firefighters working the front lines always carry a stick or pulaski (wildfire tool combining an axe and a hoe). In this fire the tools offer an added benefit as a rattlesnake checker before they put their hands in a place they can’t see.

“When doing cold trailing firefighters are literally using their hands. They’re looking for lingering fire activity especially in areas where we have done burn offs. Basically they’re looking for any lingering fire activity so they’re checking rock dugouts, root systems and testing it to see if there is any remaining smouldering organic materials,” she said.

Related: Rattlesnakes in parts of South OK could be hissssss-tory

Allen wasn’t sure how many snakes crews had run into, but said it was a “regular” occurrence.

No one working the wildfire had been bitten by a rattlesnake at the time of this posting.

Other challenges faced by BC Wildfire crews working the Snowy Mountain fire include falling rocks.

“One of the other hazards we’re seeing as the fire is burning root system of trees on the steep slopes is that rocks are dislodging and they are sliding down the slopes,” she said.

The heat is offering up its own challenge with temperatures this week hovering around 40C at times. She noted because of aggressive fire behaviour, crews are working hard, “and breaks are few and far between.”

The Snowy Mountain fire was first discovered July 17 after a lightning storm went through the region. It has since grown to just over 12,000 hectares in size and is nearing the U.S. border.

To report a typo, email:
editor@keremeosreview.com
.


@TaraBowieBC
editor@keremeosreview.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Retired football kicker wanted play hockey as a kid, but ‘it just wasn’t in the budget’

Surrey-raised Paul McCallum now backs KidSport and its annual fundraiser set for Friday

City of White Rock celebrates water treatment plant progress

Plant to reduce manganese, arsenic in water

Surrey Eagles get first victory of season with 2-1 win over Vernon

Chase Stevenson ties game late, scores OT winner on Saturday

Surrey Students NOW slate plans SOGI info session

Event aims to to ‘address concerns and misinformation about the resource being used in our schools’

Surrey Eagles to retire Humboldt victim’s number Friday

Jaxon Joseph’s No. 10 will be raised to the rafters prior to BCHL game against Prince George

Live bear cam: Let the fishing begin

Watch bears in Alaska’s Katmai National Park catch their dinner live.

Trudeau urges leaders to follow Nelson Mandela’s example at UN tribute

Peace summit in New York marks 100th birthday of former South African president

Senate seats filled in B.C., Saskatchewan

Canada’s newest senators are the first woman to lead the RCMP and a Cree Metis businessman

Newfoundland’s popular ‘merb’ys’ calendar is back

The calendar of burly, bearded mermen posing against scenic backdrops for charity returns

Less than half of Metro Vancouverites feel they can influence government: study

SFU researchers suggest most people believe elected officials don’t care

Cap rent increases at inflation rate, B.C. task force recommends

MLAs say drop annual increase that would allow 4.5% rise next year

School, church, old mining site make Heritage BC’s first ‘watch list’

The list includes sites in need of protection to maintain B.C.’s culture and history

5 to start your day

Maple Ridge students send books to fire-destroyed school, teen stabbed in Surrey park and more

Yowza! Twerk, emoji and facepalm are added to Scrabble dictionary, OK?

Merriam-Webster has announced 300 new words have been added to the spelling game

Most Read