Lake Whatcom will be open again Thursday afternoon as Blue Canyon wildfire still burns

A tanker aircraft drops water on the Blue Canyon Fire as seen from the High Bridge on Tuesday across Lake Whatcom.

Lake Whatcom, which has been closed to the public since a wildfire began Monday, will reopen to boats Thursday afternoon.

The lake will be back open at 4 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 31, according to 31, state Department of Natural Resources spokesman Chris Hankey.

When the lake does open, people are asked to stay clear of the shore surrounding the fire as there is still falling debris such as large rocks and burned out trees tumbling down the hillside.

The fire, dubbed the Blue Canyon Road fire, is nearly under control, as fire lines are being reenforced . The goal is still to keep the fire boxed in and prevent it from spreading, then let it burn itself out over the next few weeks, fire officials said.

The north edge of the fire has been difficult to build a fire line on because of the steep terrain, but the east and south sides have seen some strong progress, Hankey said. The west side of the fire has burned down to Lake Whatcom.

The south side of the fire has been a concern for firefighters because it is closest to the homes and other structures on Blue Canyon Road. So far, there have been no injuries or structural damage caused by the fire.

“No injuries, so that’s good news with debris that continues to roll all the way down the hill, all the way to the lake actually,” Hankey said.

The fire remains at about 45 acres, inside the perimeter established by firefighters. Crews are improving fire lines and creating plans for mitigation, according to a DNR news release from Thursday afternoon. The goal for the day is to improve the south fire line and start to mop up the area by putting out the hot spots near the fire line, Hankey said.

There are currently four crews on site with seven engines for a total of 124 personnel.

The fire was caused by a lightning strike around 5:55 p.m. Monday, Aug. 28. First responders arrived when the fire was covering about five acres, but could not control it by themselves due to the steep terrain and limited access to the area, according to the release.

Because of this debris, the Hertz Trail is going to remain closed, but is likely to be open at noon Friday, Sept. 1, according to Hankey.