WEST KELOWNA – Some positive news from the fire lines at the Smith Creek wildfire burning in West Kelowna Saturday morning. B.C. Wildfire Management is reporting the 260 hectare blaze is now 30 per cent contained. The perimeter contained is the area of the fire closest to the 1,100 evacuated homes.
The cooler temperatures, higher humidity and the scattered showers are playing a big role Saturday in the fight against the fire.
“We could still have, with the system moving through, strong winds today (Saturday),” fire information officer Kayla Pepper says. “But we’re hoping the temperatures stay cool enough and the relative humidity high enough that we don’t see the aggressive fire behavior we’ve seen over the last couple of days.”
Pepper says the 75 firefighters and the skimmer air tanker group made a lot of progress Friday. The wildfire is now 30 per cent contained.
And more good news. She says the only fire growth Friday was within the perimeter of fire retardant laid down by the air tanker crews. Overnight night, firefighters monitored the blaze and put out hot spots.
Crews will be working the west flank and the head of the fire on the ridge Saturday.
The risk to the hydro lines providing power to West Kelowna and Peachland is not as great as it was Friday, according to the Emergency Operations Centre. Fire retardant guards are in place around the power lines.
“However, residents should still be prepared to be self sufficient in the event of any power interruption should circumstances change,” according to a media release from the centre.
The exact cause of the wildfire is under investigation but it was likely human caused.
RCMP roadblocks are still in place on the perimeter of evacuated areas and a patrols are active.
Currently 2,500 people remain on evacuation order.
Areas affected by the evacuation order are Smith Creek, Tallus Ridge, Alexandria Way and Shannon Woods.
Residents from about 150 properties on Lenz Road, including the Pinewood Villa Mobile Home Park and from 1898 to 2515 Bartley Road also remain on evacuation alert and should be prepared to leave their homes on short notice should fire behaviour increase.
As well, the EOC is asking residents living west of the W.R. Bennett Bridge to restrict their household water use and to not water outdoors in order to provide an adequate water supply for the firefighting effort.
Emergency response personnel request that the public avoid the Smith Creek area so emergency responders can effectively perform their duties, boaters stay away from the active area, monitor www.cordemergency.ca, www.facebook.com/CORDEmergency, or www.twitter.com/CO_Emerg for confirmed information about the situation, please only call 911 in case of emergency and if you have questions call 250-469-8490.
Credit: Regional District of the Central Okanagan
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— This story was updated at 2:35 p.m. July 18 to add videos.
— This story was updated at 5:45 p.m., July 18 to indicate the reduced size of the fire.
— This story was updated at 6:05 a.m., July 19 with new information from B.C. Wildfire Management.
— This story was updated at 11 a.m., July 19 with new information from B.C. Wildfire Management and the Emergency Operations Centre.