UPDATE: Properties near Westwold evacuated Sunday night due to 'aggressive' wildfire activity | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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UPDATE: Properties near Westwold evacuated Sunday night due to 'aggressive' wildfire activity

July 19, 2021 - 4:37 PM

White Rock Lake wildfire near Westwold burned aggressively last night, forcing residents of 44 properties to evacuate on the Thompson Nicola Regional District's orders.

The B.C. Wildfire Service estimates the wildfire to be 3,000 hectares roughly 30 kilometres southwest of Westwold as of today, July 19.

On July 18, 13 properties were ordered to evacuate, but 28 properties were added around 4 p.m., July 19, with another 185 properties around Westwold on evacuation alert.

The orders were a proactive and precautionary measure due to ongoing drought conditions and fire movement travelling down the valley, fire information officer Mike McCauley said.

McCauley also stressed that it is important that the public respect evacuation alerts, orders and prohibited areas.

He says that not only do the orders keep the public safe, but when they are not followed, it inhibits the wildfire service's ability to effectively respond to the fires.

As of today, the White Rock Lake wildfire is being managed by the Okanagan Complex, meaning resources will be moved between White Rock Lake, Brenda Creek and Thomas Creek wildfires.

There are currently 12 firefighters, with three helicopters and nine pieces of heavy equipment responding to the White Rock Lake wildfire. There are also RCMP and firefighters from local departments at the scene.

Within the Thompson Nicola Regional District there are over 10 fires of note, with 18 ongoing evacuation orders and 25 alerts.

Near Ashcroft, hot and dry conditions continue to pose a challenge to the wildfire service, as they try to bring the Tremont Creek wildfire under control.

Crews continue to establish control lines as strong winds have influenced the wildfire, which is currently estimated to be 5,000 hectares in size.

Sixty properties near Walhachin were ordered to evacuate on July 17.

At Embleton Mountain, at least 40 firefighters continue to establish fire guards to prevent spread to private properties.

Firefighters are expected to use a technique called blacklining to create larger fireguards and control the fire's spread, according to B.C. Wildfire Service. Blacklining involves using small hand ignitions to extend predetermined fire guards and burn fuels ahead of the main fire.

The wildfire service is allowing the wildfire to move slowly down the mountainside, with helicopters in the area to control its spread.

In the Shuswap and North Okanagan areas, two wildfires of note have prompted multiple evacuation alerts.

The community of Seymour Arm is on evacuation alert due to the Hunakwa Lake wildfire, which is estimated to be 1,100 hectares in size.

Four heavy equipment units from the wildfire service are both establishing fire guards and widening surrounding roads to aid for potential evacuations.

The Bunting Road wildfire, 41 kilometres northeast of Lumby, remains out of control and has prompted the Regional District of the North Okanagan to issue an evacuation alert for multiple properties near Mabel Lake.

There are currently 298 active wildfires in the province, with 115 of those fires within the Kamloops Fire Centre.

— This story was updated at 4:30 p.m., July 19, 2021, with new information from the Thompson Nicola Regional District.

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