A forest fire near the Coquihalla shut down the highway briefly at Helmer Lake Monday as air tankers dropped retardant on the blaze.
The 1.5-hectare forest fire is in a remote area near the Helmer exit along Highway 5, 24 kilometres north of Merritt.
At around 3 p.m., wildfire officials stopped traffic along the highway for less than an hour as fire suppressant rained down. The northbound lane remained closed into the evening as a precaution.
“The retardant did a good job of slowing down the fire,” said Fionna Tollovsen, provincial fire information officer. “We’re seeing a lot less activity, so not a lot of open flame.”
Ground crews were busy building a guard around the fire at press time. The wind was making the task more difficult, said Tollovsen.
“We are definitely keeping an eye on the winds and ensure we plan for any contingency in case we do see an increase in fire behaviour,” she said. “But at this point the Helmer Creek one definitely seems to be behaving itself.”
The fire is likely linked to human activity, she said, because no lightning was recorded in the area in recent days.