Just over 1,600 properties are under evacuation alerts and orders because of the Keremeos Creek wildfire that’s burning in B.C.’s Southern Interior.
Located in the South Okanagan, around 21 km from Penticton and six km from Apex Mountain Resort, the blaze was estimated at 5,903 hectares on Friday afternoon, up from its last estimate of 4,250 ha on Wednesday.
“We hadn’t done (size) mapping in two days,” BC Wildfire Service information officer Bryan Zandberg said during a press conference on Friday at 2 p.m.
According to the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen, within electoral areas G and I plus the Village of Keremeos, there are 547 properties on evacuation order, with another 1,050 on evacuation alert.
The Penticton Indian Band also had another 24 properties on evacuation alert.
Zandberg said there was a huge wind event on Thursday, noting that in Oliver, where they’re camped, some firefighters’ tents were blown away.
“(The winds) were really strong,” said Zandberg, adding they eventually died down in the evening. “I understand the winds were in excess of 50 km/h gusts, pushing from north to south.”
Those winds, Zandberg said, led to an evacuation order for the community of Olalla (just over 200 properties), with an alert for Keremeos.
“The fire has been advancing north along Green Mountain Road,” said Zandberg. “We had some embers blow across Highway 3A (above Olalla), getting to the other side of it.
“We had people there and they actioned it immediately. But it speaks to the risk and the intensity of the wind (on Thursday).”
The RDOS also said there were also 361 registrations through emergency social services as of Thursday night.
For Friday, Zandberg said “it hasn’t been a challenging day, which is obviously fantastic.”
In its Friday update, BCWS said there were no new structures lost to report.
There are 227 wildland firefighters on scene plus 170 structure protection personnel, 15 helicopters and 40 pieces of heavy equipment.
Zandberg also described “how quiet” it is along most portions of Highway 3A.
“We’ve had crews in there now since the fire started, and it’s nice and quiet,” he said. “(This is the area) where we did the prescribed burn a few days ago and that’s just excellent.
“Obviously it keeps the highway open and it helps us get to a point where we can start letting people back into (their homes). Again, this is one of our top priorities, getting people back into their homes.
“I’m happy to report that it’s nice and quiet in there and we’re anticipating it staying that way, because the fuels are gone. So that’s really good.”
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