July 21, 2015 - 5:34 PM
KELOWNA – The Shelter Cove wildfire along Westside Road continues to grow, however Wildfire B.C. says homes and other structures are not threatened and they are confident they will have it under control soon.
The fire, which was first reported Monday afternoon, is not yet contained and continues to burn roughly 430 hectares of dry, wooded terrain along Westside Road.
Wildfire Management spokesman Dale Bojahra says while the fire has grown in size over the past 24 hours, it is moving up the slope and away from homes and properties.
“It’s been a challenging day here,” he told media on a tour behind the lines Tuesday afternoon. “We experienced a lot of activity… through the night with the gusty winds pushing it downslope and then this morning… we really started to see an increase in activity pushing back upslope to the ridge top.”
Westside Road is acting as a natural fire break and only scattered pockets of burning stumps and bushes can be seen from the road.
“There is very little containment right now,” he says.
Bojahra says the Shelter Cove wildfire started as two separate fires that combined into one sometime overnight. Strong winds and tinder-dry conditions make it a dangerous and ever-evolving situation for firefighters.
"We are somewhat limited with what we can do with a fire like this,” he says. “At the head of the fire, where we have volatile fire behaviour, we can't just put people right out in front of that, it would put them at risk. Our strategy is to anchor off Westside Road and work up the north and south flanks, supporting the crews that put retardant in there, slow down the fire behaviour and support that with crews and heavy equipment where we can.”
He says none of the residents of the roughly 70 homes that were forced to evacuate will be able to return tonight. The order remains in place for homes along Westside Road from 3985 Westside Road north to La Casa Resort, but not including La Casa, along with residents of Denison Road, Shelter Cove Road, Central Okanagan Road and Deighton Road.
Residents on Terrace Way, Chalet Crescent and Condo Court are not under evacuation order.
Evacuated residents are asked to check in at the Lions Hall in West Kelowna.
Westside Road is closed from Denison Road to La Casa and nearly 1,400 customers in the area have been without power since about 5:30 a.m. because of the fire. B.C. Hydro does not provide an estimate on when power will be restored.
“At this point we haven’t seen a lot of growth either north or south towards the homes, most of the growth has been upslope into the timbers… away from the homes.”
The Emergency Support Services Reception Center will close at 10 p.m. tonight and re-open at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow morning.
For up-to-date information on the Shelter Cove wildfire and other fires around the Okanagan, visit Wildfire B.C.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015