UPDATE: Large sprinklers protecting West Kelowna's only source of power from Brenda Creek wildfire | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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UPDATE: Large sprinklers protecting West Kelowna's only source of power from Brenda Creek wildfire

The Brenda Creek wildfire, July 20, 2021.
Image Credit: B.C. Wildfire Service
July 22, 2021 - 10:15 AM

A wildfire threatening a transmission line that is the main source of power for roughly 65,000 Central Okanagan residents saw some growth yesterday but firefighters are guarding it with a large sprinkler system.

The Brenda Creek wildfire, located near Peachland and south of the Okanagan Connector, is currently 662 hectares in size and still burning out of control, according to the B.C. Wildfire Service.

West Kelowna, Peachland and other surrounding communities have long had an issue with a single power line supplying electricity to the area’s roughly 65,000 people.

READ MORE: ‘Life and death situation': Mayor concerned as wildfire threatens only hydro transmission line into West Kelowna

Yesterday, favorable winds allowed wildfire crews to reinforce sections of guard line on the northwest corner of the fire using hand ignition tools. The northwest winds caused the fire to grow in the eastern and southern directions, but did not impact the transmission line, according to the service.

“A mass water delivery system is now in place to protect the section of the transmission line within the fire perimeter. This delivery system consists of a four-inch hose line that supplies a series of larger sprinklers. A specialized high-volume pump supplies water to the line, which can be turned on quickly if the threat to the transmission line increases due to increased fire activity,” according to the service.

Fire has been around the transmission line for the last several days, which is why the large specialized sprinkler system has been brought in, said wildfire information officer Mike McCulley.

“We’re not just using regular equipment out there, we’re bringing in some extra water moving gear, something a little more significant than we would normally use because of that high priority resource.”

The transmission line being impacted is still a high concern, a concern which will last until winter comes due to the drought conditions, McCulley said.

Winds on the fire challenged crews yesterday, but the fire has grown over the last several days.

“Sometimes growth is not the worst thing,” he said, adding that removing fuels between a fire guard and the fire is helpful. The wildfire burned some of the fuels within the guard over the last few days.

“We don’t want to leave a bunch of fuel in an area where it could later catch fire,” he said.

When fires are burning in gullies and canyons, they can grow in multiple directions as the winds shift, he said.

Today, B.C. Wildfire crews are working to identify and build contingency lines on active flanks of the fire, according to the service.

Helicopters were used to bucket water on hotspots yesterday, and will continue this effort today. A total of four firefighters and three support staff remained on site last night to monitor the fire and protect structures.

This fire is being managed by a B.C. Wildfire Service incident management team. Aircraft and other resources may be reallocated from day to day from other fires in the area and vice versa as priorities shift.

An evacuation order is in place for 43 properties in Electoral Area H of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen. An evacuation alert is also in place for Eneas Lakes, Pennask Lake, Trepanier, and Pennask Creek provincial parks. 

An evacuation alert is in effect for Regional District of Central Okanagan properties including three recreational camping areas and Crown land within the West Electoral Area, south of Highway 97C and northwest of Peachland. For more information, visit the regional district’s website.

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District has also issued an evacuation alert for three properties located in Electoral Area M. For more information, visit the regional district’s website.

An area restriction is also in effect.

- This story was updated at 12:10 p.m. to include comments from McCulley.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 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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