July 17, 2014 - 7:11 PM
WEST KELOWNA - The Smith Creek wildfire has grown to 200 hectares as of 10:30 p.m. and remains entirely uncontained, officials say.
Fire officials are trying to get a guard around the fire to protect some 1,100 homes in its path.
The fire was called in as a grass fire at about 1:20 p.m. July 17, grew to a rank five at the head by 5 p.m. and has since been downgraded to a rank three.
Smoke was first seen coming from an area a few hundred yards into an access trail near a bible camp. It has since moved quickly, threatening homes in the Copper Ridge Road area and forcing an evacuation order for 585 homes and 1,500 residents to an emergency reception centre located at Lakeview Heights Baptist Church, 2630 Alhambra Drive, West Kelowna.
People trying to get out of the area on Highway 97 near Ambrosi Road are facing backups as they wait for fire trucks to clear two blocked lanes.
The fire has increased to more than 200 hectares. A home and outbuilding thought destroyed in the early stages was saved by a bucket helicopter.
RCMP are blocking Smith Creek Road at Elliott and Copper Ridge, as well as any other access roads leading to the fire.
Shifting winds of about 15 km/h have made containing the fire difficult. Support from Peachland Fire and Rescue was called in early and Kelowna and Lake Country have been called for additional support as well.
Residents not in the evacuation zone are asked to limit household water use and shut off outdoor irrigation systems to keep pressure up for emergency crews fighting the fire.
A press release from the Regional District of Central Okanagan requests the public avoid the Smith Creek area to allow emergency responders to perform their duties. Monitor cordemergency.ca, www.facebook.com/CORDEmergency or Twitter.com/CO_Emerg for confirmed information about the situation.
Only call 911 in cases of emergency.
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— Updated at 5:30 to include information from a press conference by Emergency Operations Centre officials.
— This story was updated at 2:05 p.m. to include details provided by the Regional District.
— This story was udpated at 5:35 p.m., July 17 with additional photos.
— This story was updated at 5:52 p.m., July 17 with information about traffic backups.
— This story was updated at 10:30 p.m., July 17 to adjust size of fire.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014