Personnel fighting the Keremeos Creek wildfire camping at the airport in Oliver, British Columbia

As of Tuesday, 437 wildfire personnel have been working to contain the Keremeos Creek Fire, but in between fighting the blaze, crews are calling the airport in Oliver, B.C., home.

The makeshift camp was set up last week as a centralized location for all crew members.

“That’s the rustic life. It’s living in a camp,” said Mikhail Elsay, information officer for the BC Wildfire Service (BCWS).

“The airport is useful for us because it’s hooked up to the city’s sewer and water line, so we have access to water, which is a huge factor, as well as electricity. When we are in the rural sites it is difficult to get the basic amenities on site but being at the airport here it is attached.

Along with several pitched tents, the base includes laundry and kitchen facilities, wash cars for bathrooms and showers, additional equipment as well as office trailers for the incident management team.

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Keremeos Creek fire: Highway 3A still closed, cooler temperatures expected

“Our logisticians are also doing an incredible job of being able to get this in place in a very short time, and also making sure we have everything we need to handle this fire,” Elsay said.

The camp is a bustling area with crew members resting, coming and going alongside helicopters and heavy machinery.

Daytime firefighters typically wake up between 4:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m., then eat breakfast before going to the fire until late at night.

Meanwhile, night firefighters were given space inside one of the airport hangars as a cooler space to sleep during the day.

On Monday, 256 wildland firefighters and 157 structural protection personnel were assigned to the Keremeos Creek wildfire and the camp is nearing capacity.

Click to play the video:

Crews battling Keremeos Creek Wildfire brace for potential lightning in forecast

Crews battling Keremeos Creek Wildfire brace for potential lightning in forecast

“If we were to bring in even more firefighters, we would just need to bring in more stuff. So it would just be more bathrooms, more car washes, and increase our ability to cook more food in that area,” Elsay said.

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Once crews pack their bags, BC Wildfire Service says they want to leave little to no long-term impacts where the base is, which is why commercial facilities like the airport are ideal.

“If we were to use fields that are also used for industry, livestock, agriculture, the ground is beaten up and so there are lasting impacts,” Elsay said.

BC Wildfire Service and the City of Oliver are asking the public to stay away from camp. This includes the area between Airport Street and Road 2.

BC Wildfire requests that traffic in this area be restricted to essential use.

Click to play the video:

Smoky skies cover the Keremeos Creek wildfire

Smoky skies cover the Keremeos Creek wildfire


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