Wildfire crews work to establish guards around Okanagan's largest wildfire | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Wildfire crews work to establish guards around Okanagan's largest wildfire

The Thomas Creek wildfire near Okanagan Falls, July 14, 2021.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Suzie Bourcier Hansen
July 14, 2021 - 3:33 PM

B.C. Wildfire Service crews are working to establish fire guards around the Okanagan's biggest wildfire this afternoon to protect homes.

The Thomas Creek wildfire, near Okanagan Falls, is still mapped at 1,500 hectares, according to the latest update from the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen this afternoon, July 14. The fire saw growth yesterday.

“The size increase is attributed to hot and dry conditions in the area on July 13, as well as windy conditions in the afternoon," according to the B.C. Wildfire Service.

Ground personnel are working on the "west/southwest flank of the fire closest to homes and are assisted by heavy equipment to establish and reinforce fire guards. Planned ignitions between the fire guard and the fire perimeter will help eliminate available fuels,” according to the service. The cause of the fire is under investigation and the blaze is still out of control.

Today, the wildfire service had 30 personnel, with assistance from six helicopters, multiple pieces of heavy equipment, structure protection units and the local fire department on scene.

An evacuation alert remains in effect by the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen for 704 properties in Electoral Area D.

For more information on evacuation alerts, visit the regional district’s website.

A fire that was likely caused by lightning is located eight kilometres east of Keremeos near Blind Creek. It was discovered July 9 and is mapped at 2.5 hectares, said wildfire information officer Taylor MacDonald. Six personnel are responding to the wildfire today with one helicopter.

In the North Okanagan, the Becker Lake wildfire near Coldstream is still being held at this time, MacDonald said. If a wildfire is being held, firefighters don’t expect it to grow outside of its existing boundaries.

The fire is currently mapped at 35 hectares in size and is classified as a wildfire of note, which means the fire is highly visible or they pose a potential threat to public safety.

The Greenbow Creek wildfire, north of Vernon in Spallumcheen, was contained yesterday, July 13 at roughly one hectare in size.

In the Shuswap, the small community of Seymour Arm was placed on evacuation alert due to a wildfire near Hunakwa Lake. The fire is suspected to be caused by lighting and is displaying aggressive fire behaviour, according to the service. MacDonald did not have an update on how many crews were battling the blaze today. 

“A lot of this has to do with the fact that we have hundreds of fires burning within our fire zone and to get updates on each and every one of them down to the single resources being deployed is not sustainable at this time, so we try to keep a rolling list of what’s in the public eye and what’s a fire of interest and get those updates in an expedited fashion,” MacDonald said.

Current wildfires of note, wildfires that are highly visible or that may impact communities, are prioritized first, she said.

There are currently 107 active wildfires burning in the Kamloops Fire Centre, an area from the South Okanagan to Wells Gray Provincial Park, and as far west as Lillooet and Ogden.

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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