PEACHLAND - Though the Drought Hill forest fire near Highway 97C near Peachland stayed behind guards and didn't grow at all over night, that's no longer the case according to a recent press release.
The fire has grown to 40 hectares today. There are 85 personnel battling the flames from Wildfire Management and Peachland and West Kelowna Fire Departments.
Last night the fire more than doubled to 30 hectares at 7:46 p.m. from 13 hectares at 5:15 p.m. but cooler overnight temperatures, a lack of wind and retardant guards kept it from advancing.
One family has been ordered from its home in the 4700 block of MacKinnon Road. Central Okanagan Regional District emergency personnel have declared a local state of emergency.
They are asking the public to not stop on Highway 97C near the Drought Hill Forest Fire zone to keep the area clear for emergency personnel.
The fire is in grass and open timber and is "exhibiting moderately vigorous fire behaviour," says B.C. Wildfire spokesperson Kelsey Winter.
They are hitting it with airtankers, four water bombers, two helicopters and 27 fire fighters and an additional 20-person sustained action crew is also assigned. Aircraft are assisting ground crews in establishing a guard.
The highway has been reduced to one lane in both directions to ensure the safety of emergency personnel near the old Tourist Information Booth.
West Kelowna and Peachland Fire and Rescue arrived at the scene of the fire at about 2:30 p.m., Aug. 7, estimating the size at about 4.5 hectares. It began about 500 feet from Highway 97C on the Okanagan Connector near Mackinnon Road.
There are homes in the area.
An emergency Operation Centre has been mobilized at a level one and will support field crews. More information will be made evailable to the public through www.cordemergency.ca as soon as it becomes available.
Emergency response personnel ask the public to:
- Avoid the Trepanier and Highway 97C areas so emergency responders can effectively perform their duties
- Motorists heading along Highway 97C are asked to slow down and stay away from emergency vehicles and watch for any lane closures and traffic personnel.
- Monitor www.cordemergency.ca, www.facebook.com/CORDemergency or www.twitter.com/CO_Emerg for confirmed information about the situation.
The District of West Kelowna says the Regional Emergency Program is aware that there is a fire near the Trepanier area. An Emergency Operations Centre is being mobilized now and the public is asked to please not call 911 regarding this particular fire as emergency personnel are aware and on it.
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— Story updated at 6:01 p.m. to include state of emergency and evacuation information.
— Story updated at 6:31 p.m. to include a plea for traffic not to stop on the highway.
— Story updated at 6:51 p.m. to include a new estimate of fire size at 25 hectares from 13 hectares at 5:14 p.m.
— Story updated at 7:47 p.m. to include a new estimated of fire size at 30 hectares.
— Story updated at 7:13 a.m. Aug. 8 to include new information from overnight.
— Story updated at noon Aug. 8 to include new information from a Wildfire Management press release.