Testalinden Creek fire holding for now; gusty winds a concern | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Testalinden Creek fire holding for now; gusty winds a concern

FILE - A helicopter is seen filling a bucket as part of the fight against the Testalinden Creek fire in this file photo. Forecast winds of up to 50 kilometres per hour are a concern for fire crews.

OLIVER – Fire crews are holding the huge wildfire burning in the South Okanagan but strong winds in the forecast will likely kick up fire activity.

The 37-square-kilometre Testalinden Creek fire is 60 per cent contained and is currently burning about seven kilometres south of Oliver.

“Due to the gusty winds over the last few days the fire has progressed north to the Reed Creek area, but it is currently holding on the north side of the Reed Creek Ridge,” B.C. Wildfire information officer Heather Rice says.

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen issued an evacuation order Friday, upgrading an evacuation alert which went out Thursday.

Rice says none of the 27 properties under the evacuation order are immediately threatened. RCMP are patrolling the evacuated area.

At least 250 properties, including homes, remain on alert, meaning residents may be ordered to leave at a moment's notice.

She says 232 firefighters, 11 helicopters and 21 pieces of heavy equipment are battling the flames on the north flank today, Aug. 29, adding air operations are going well.

“Visibility is not 100 per cent by any stretch, but it’s pretty good,” Rice says. “We have helicopters bucketing, amphibious air skimmers, and air tankers are dropping retardant where necessary.”

The forecast is calling for more gusty winds, between 30 to 50 kilometres per hour this afternoon and overnight.

“That will create further challenges for our fire fighting efforts,” she says.

Environment Canada has issued a special air quality statement for the Thompson-Okanagan and recommends residents avoid strenuous outdoor activities and get medical help if they have difficulty breathing, chest pains or other health concerns.

Smoke from the Stickpin fire in nearby Washington state is to blame for most of the smoke in the air.

Rice is also asking people to stay away from the fire so they don’t get in the way of fire crews trying to do their jobs.

The Tesalinden Creek fire was discovered on Aug. 14 and the cause is under investigation.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Howard Alexander at halexander@infonews.ca. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

— With files from The Canadian Press

News from © iNFOnews, 2015

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