Crews battling Thomas Creek wildfire south of Penticton see light at the end of the tunnel | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

Current Conditions

Partly Cloudy

Penticton News

Crews battling Thomas Creek wildfire south of Penticton see light at the end of the tunnel

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces are in the South Okanagan to assist BC Wildfire crews on the Thomas Creek Fire between Penticton and OK Falls.
Image Credit: BC Wildfire Service
August 11, 2021 - 1:16 PM

B.C. Wildfire crews are making such progress on the Thomas Creek wildfire between Penticton and OK Falls they may finally change its status from 'out-of-control'.

“Within a week, we may be at a stage where we can change the status,” fire information officer Greg Jonuk said. “That is a highly optimistic view, but a few days ago we weren’t thinking that at all… that’s giving us a lot of hope.”

The Thomas Creek wildfire is estimated at 11,755 hectares.

The other major fire in the South Okanagan – the Nk’Mip Creek wildfire spanning 17,469 hectares between Oliver and Osoyoos – remains “a challenging situation,” Jonuk said.

However, crews successfully performed a hand ignition in a triangular area on its northwest corner yesterday, Aug. 10. And today, the Nk’Mip Creek team was bolstered today by the return of 98 Mexican firefighters, who make up a large proportion of the 243-person crew.

While the team from Mexico was on a three-day break (their only days off since arriving in B.C. on July 24), their expertise was noticeably absent.

“We had to find strategies to compensate until we could get that heavy manpower back from the Mexicans,” Jonuk said. “The consistency that they bring is valuable.”

Since many of the Mexican firefighters have experience fighting B.C. wildfires, having been among the teams that offered similar assistance in 2017 and 2018, “we’re able to incorporate them very well into our crews.”

Residents under an evacuation order in the Mt. Baldy area will be allowed access to their properties tomorrow, Aug. 12, in two windows of time between 7 to 9 a.m. and 9 to 11 a.m. according to a Regional District of Kootenay Boundary emergency operations centre media release.

Residents can register by calling 1-888-747-9119. After 11 a.m., the RCMP will check to make everyone has left. For the latest on the evacuation orders and alerts, and more on the planned property visitation go here.

Both major fires in the South Okanagan continue to benefit from northwesterly winds, which are pushing the fires back in on themselves, allowing crews to use ground resources in steep areas where heavy equipment cannot be used. Today’s favourable wind conditions, which were expected to change since yesterday, may continue into tomorrow, “so that’s good news,” Jonuk said.

Later this week however, warmer and windier weather is expected, “so it’ll be hard.”

The only other fire in the Okanagan complex, Brenda Creek, has been classified as Held since Aug. 5 and is not expected to grow.

READ MORE: 6 structures confirmed damaged by White Rock Lake wildfire near Okanagan Lake

— This story was updated at 1:42 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021 to include new information from Regional District of Kootenay Boundary EOC.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Dan Walton or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above. 

News from © iNFOnews, 2021

  • Popular penticton News
View Site in: Desktop | Mobile