Highway 97 closed due to White Rock Lake wildfire | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Highway 97 closed due to White Rock Lake wildfire

August 05, 2021 - 2:27 PM

Highway 97 between Falkland and Monte Creek has been closed due to the White Rock Lake wildfire.

According to the DriveBC website, the closure is in effect, since about 1 p.m., Aug. 5, from Salmon River Road to Monte Creek. That's a nearly 62 kilometre stretch of Highway 97.

No time or date for reopening is known yet and drivers are being rerouted to Highways 1, 97A or 97B.

Although the route is closed due to the nearby wildfire, the highway is not being imminently threatened by the blaze. The decision to close the route is due to smoke and the safety of wildfire crews as they work in the area, according to B.C. Wildfire Service fire information officer Shannon Street.

The road has been busy with evacuees since orders were expanded last night.

Tambria Shortt said the road near the intersection of Westside Road and Highway 97 was "bumper-to-bumper" even around 1 a.m.

READ MORE: Evacuation orders on White Rock Lake fire expanded due to expected winds

Shortt oversees grounds and animals at O'Keefe Ranch, which has opened its doors for evacuees to bring their livestock.

She said the ranch has been encouraging anyone under evacuation alert to bring their livestock to the historic ranch before it's escalated to an order, in an effort to make evacuations more efficient.

They still have room for more animals at O'Keefe Ranch, but there are other places in the area accepting livestock in the wake of expanded evacuation orders, including Pritchard Rodeo Grounds.

There are hundreds of properties under evacuation orders and many more are on alert from four regional districts and the Okanagan Indian Band.

The nearby White Rock Lake wildfire was last estimated by B.C. Wildfire Service to be 32,500 hectares, but more growth is expected with increased winds on Thursday afternoon.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 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.

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