UPDATE: Status of flights in and out of Kelowna could change on an hourly basis due to White Rock Lake fire | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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UPDATE: Status of flights in and out of Kelowna could change on an hourly basis due to White Rock Lake fire

Smoke rising from the White Rock Lake wildfire, July 25, 2021.
Image Credit: B.C. Wildfire Service
August 02, 2021 - 9:16 AM

The White Rock Lake fire burning near Westwold has grown to 32,312 hectares, prompting further evacuations over the weekend and hampering air travel in Kelowna for the next day at least.

“The majority of the flights in and out of Kelowna are expected to be cancelled today due to the no fly zone imposed by the BC Forest Service over the White Rock Lake Fire,” Phillip Elchitz Senior Airport Operations Manager said.

“The no fly zone over the White Rock Lake fire has restricted the instrument approaches in and out of the airport, which are required on low visibility days such as today.”

Airport officials are working with Transport Canada, NAV Canada and BC Wildfire on an interim measure that would allow limited operations in and out of the airport tonight but Elchitz said that will be decided on an hour by hour basis. As is, some flights this evening are still scheduled, but the airlines are still not sure that the measures needed to keep the flight going are going to be possible until tomorrow.

Those battling back the fire are also struggling with the smoke and visibility.

“Conditions on site continue to be extremely smoky, which is hampering the ability for aircraft to fly and is challenging suppression efforts,” BC Wildfire said in its most recent update.

“Variable amounts of precipitation were seen on the perimeter of the fire yesterday, Aug. 1.”

The northern areas on the fire in the Westwold area received up to 10 millimetres of rain, which was enough to provide a reprieve from fire behaviour over the next 24 to 48 hours.

The southern part of the fire received minimal precipitation. Temperatures are expected to remain in the mid-20s and winds will be 10 to 20 km/hr with gusts up to 30 km/hr in the afternoon. In the south, fire behaviour continues to be quite active.

“Crews are continuing to work towards safe, achievable operational objectives under extremely adverse conditions,” BC Wildfire said.

Wildfire information officer Hanna Swift said Sunday much of the activity of the fire happened Saturday night along the south flank, as the fire perimeter crossed the Salmon River FSR.

There was also fire activity observed on the north flank, south of the Monte Lake area, however no significant growth occurred due to the northerly winds in the area.

White Rock Lake Incident Commander Scott Rennick said crews were moving to Vernon in the next 48 hours to work in conjunction with Quebec firefighters to better help them with system management of the White Rock Lake fire.

Also, more resources are being made available to this fire in the next 48 to 72 hours, he said.

Based upon the recommendation from the BC Wildfire Service, the Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO) has issued an Evacuation Order for a portion of Electoral Area B above Westside Road.

The Order applies to all of the properties south of and including Six Mile Creek Road to the boundary of the Regional District of Central Okanagan due to the White Rock Lake wildfire (#K61884). The Evacuation Order previously issued for properties along Bouleau and Pinaus Lake remains in effect. The Evacuation Alert for properties along Irish Creek Road in Electoral Area B remains in effect.

For the latest on evacuations check here.


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