Huge wildfire tears through grass, timber near Rock Creek
Howard Alexander - News Editor
The view of smoke from a wildfire burning near Rock Creek, B.C., from a vineyard in Naramata, B.C. on Thursday Aug. 13, 2015 is shown in this handout image provide by Laughing Stock Vineyards.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Laughing Stock Vineyards
August 14, 2015 - 9:31 AM
ROCK CREEK, - An aggressive wildfire in B.C.'s Boundary region, just north of the U.S. border, has grown significantly overnight but heavy smoke has complicated efforts to map the Rock Creek fire, 50 kilometres east of Osoyoos.
Fire Information Officer Fanny Bernard says initial estimates suggested the blaze had grown to 20-square kilometres but those figures have now been scaled back to 13-square kilometres this morning, Aug. 14.
About 240 homes were evacuated yesterday from an area that spanned Hulme Creek Road, Christian Valley Road to Fiva Creek and from Rock Creek about 13 kilometres north to Westbridge.
Deep Sidhu with the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary said Rock Creek evacuees — including campers — boarded buses to Midway Community Centre.
Evacuees from the Westbridge area were heading to Beaverdell Community Church and Willow Park Church in Kelowna, he said.
Bernard cannot confirm any homes have been lost, but RCMP in the area have said several vehicles and RVs at the Kettle River provincial campground have burned, along with some nearby residences.
Highway 3 was closed in both directions two kilometres west of Rock Creek on Thursday night. Highway 33 was closed in both directions between Rock Creek and McColloch Road. Those closures remain in effect with no estimated time of opening from Drive B.C.
Crews worked overnight to protect area properties and 60 firefighters will be joined by three initial attack crews, four officers, helicopter support and three air tankers in an effort to corral the uncontained flames.
Bernard said the cause of the fire is still under investigation and there is heavy smoke billowing from the area. The region is tinder-dry and on Stage 4 water restrictions.
About 1,200 customers were without power in Rock Creek, Westbridge, Beaverdell, Bridesville and Christian Valley, said Fortis B.C. spokeswoman Nicole Bogdanovic.
She said crews could not begin working on the outage until it is declared safe.
"Our crews were directed by emergency officials to evacuate themselves from the area until morning."
News from © The Canadian Press, 2015