Wildfire burning in North Okanagan grows to 55,000 ha | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Wildfire burning in North Okanagan grows to 55,000 ha

The White Rock Lake wildfire, taken Aug. 6, 2021.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Micah Mckerlich
August 07, 2021 - 10:16 AM

A wildfire threatening homes in the Okanagan has reached 55,000 hectares in the last 48 hours.

“We did experience quite a lot of winds overnight, the winds were quite strong in certain areas, gusting over 40 km/hr, so we did see quite a lot of growth near the southern parts of the fire, we were seeing rank four, and rank five fire behaviour,” said B.C. Wildfire Service information officer Shannon Street.

The White Rock Lake wildfire is burning roughly 34 km northwest of Vernon and its growth slowed down in the night, Street said. The fire is currently classified as out of control and is the province’s top priority.

READ MORE: More evacuation orders, alerts issued for communities as wildfire blazes in North Okanagan

Structure protection crews remained on the fire overnight and Street wasn't aware of the fire impacting any other communities.

Crews are still working on assessing the perimeter of the fire today as smoke has hampered efforts. The fire is estimated to have reached 55,000 hectares in the last two days, she said.

“There was a little bit of precipitation this morning. It’s not going to stop the fire but it did give us a little bit of a reprieve,” she said. “We are expecting over the next 24 hours or so that fire behaviour will slow down a little bit which is good news, it will give crews a little bit more time to make those guards.”

Wildfire crews are focusing their efforts on the northwest flank, establishing machine guards along the forest service roads in the area and using direct attack methods with heavy equipment to limit the fire’s spread, Street said.

On the fire’s northern tip, crews are working on the western side, establishing a guard northward towards Highway 97 and on the southeast. Helicopters are also supporting crews in that area.

On the wildfire's southern flank, crews will work along Beautiful Road to contain the fire where possible, Street said. If conditions are favourable, firefighters will also conduct small ignition operations to support the fire guard.

There are still other parts of the fire’s southwest flank that are still active as well, Street said.

Some residents are still staying behind while under an evacuation order, but others have evacuated once they saw aggressive fire behaviour in the last 48 hours, Street said.

The Thompson Nicola Regional District has still been unable to get into the area to determine the extent of the damage at Monte Lake, she said. The TNRD board chair said yesterday that a campsite, store and homes have burned in Monte Lake.

Yesterday, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth urged residents under evacuation orders to leave their homes, as staying behind could hamper wildfire fighting efforts.

“This fire is aggressive and escape routes can be quickly compromised and cut off direction,” he said during a live-streamed press conference. “Staying behind in an evacuated area, not only risks your own life and (family’s life), it also risks the lives of the first responders fighting the fire.”

READ MORE: ‘Firefighters very nearly paid with their lives:’ Minister urges residents to follow evacuation orders

There are 126 wildland firefighters, 125 structure protection personnel, 13 helicopters, eight danger tree assessors and 38 pieces of heavy equipment on site today.


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