'Truly aggressive': Nk’Mip fire mapped at 2,000 and expected to grow | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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'Truly aggressive': Nk’Mip fire mapped at 2,000 and expected to grow

Nk'Mip Creek wildfire, July 19, 2021.
Image Credit: B.C. Wildfire Service
July 20, 2021 - 2:58 PM

The Nk’Mip Creek fire burning near Osoyoos is currently mapped at 2,000 hectares and is characterized as “truly aggressive.”

BC Wildfire's Dale Bojahara said during a Tuesday afternoon briefing that this fire has moved incredibly quickly. To illustrate its intensity, he said it burned through six kilometres over several hours when it broke out Monday night. Today it’s still on the move and the expectation is that it may get more intense as the day continues on.

“At this point we have a number of ground crews and heavy equipment working on the fire,” Bojahara said.

“There is a lot of focus on the west and southwest flank, as you would imagine because that's where we have the most exposure to the community (and homes.)”.

The fire is currently a Rank 3, which is defined as a moderately vigorous surface fire, and the flames are currently trying to move up slope. 

“We’re expecting the winds to come more out of the north, which is what has prompted us to make some additional (evacuation) recommendations to the local government fairly recently for the other side of the fire to ensure that everyone's prepared in the event that this incident starts moving more to the south and the east,” he said.

The firefight is dynamic at this point and Bojahara asked that people heed warnings that have been distributed to make their workload more manageable.

“We’ve had a number of instances of folks, when an order comes in, refusing to leave their property,” he said.

That, he said, puts firefighters in a very difficult position.

“It pulls resources away from fighting fire …. I can't stress enough, that with these current times it's something that is extraordinarily difficult for our crews to deal with while we're stretched thin trying to suppress the fire.”

He said this is a “critical piece” that puts firefighters in harm's way.

Also, skimmers and bucketing helicopters are struggling with those who are trying to watch the firefight from a Lakeview.

“It is very important to give a very very wide berth and stay off the lake, if at all possible,” he said.  “We're not looking for spectators. We've had numerous instances, up and down the valley with the general public coming in and trying to view the fires at a very low perspective, many times, putting themselves in danger.”

All this does is pull resources from the important job and work they're trying to do.

There have been a number of evacuation orders and alerts issued for this fire located six kilometres north of the Osoyoos.

Mike Campol, chief operating officer with the Osoyoos Indian Band, confirmed the resort and campground were evacuated. Burrowing Owl Estate Winery also posted via Facebook the winery is temporarily closed and has been evacuated. Phantom Creek Estates is also under an evacuation order.

"The fire is not, at this time, an imminent danger to Spirit Ridge," said Osoyoos Indian Band Chief Clarence Louie. The fire is burning up the hillside away from the resort, but he didn't know how many people were evacuated.

The fire is classified as out of control and an evacuation order is in effect for roughly 160 properties on Osoyoos Indian Band land. An evacuation alert has been issued by the Osoyoos Indian Band for 21 properties.

As of now there have been 350 people who have registered with the Oliver Reception Centre.

This service is for area residents. Those who have been evacuated from campgrounds and other tourist accommodations are being asked to simply return to their homes and reduce the pressure on the systems that have been set up.

Area residents who are still in their homes are also being asked to help by reducing their power usage.

Fortis had several critical pieces of infrastructure in the area. They’ve asked for users to reduce power use between 4 and 8 p.m.

For more information on alerts and orders go to the RDOS website.

 


To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 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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