Okanagan fire grows to 1,000 hectares; thousands of homes on evacuation alert or order

VANCOUVER — A fire in B.C.’s Okanagan has grown to 1,000 hectares, with thousands of homes either on evacuation alert or evacuation order.

The fire, which is burning north of Okanagan Falls on the east side of Skaha Lake, was first discovered Tuesday and quickly grew in estimated size. The last update came from the BC Wildfire Service at about 10:15 p.m.

According to the wildfire service, the blaze isn’t at all contained and is “burning in difficult rocky sloped terrain with limited access points for ground crews.” There were 21 fire crew members on scene overnight and additional resources are expected to arrive throughout the day Wednesday.

There are 319 properties under evacuation order in the Heritage Hills area and near McLean Creek Road. Residents were ordered to leave their properties immediately Tuesday. 

Thousands more are on evacuation alert in the area. There are 3,669 properties in the south east part of Penticton that are on alert, including those within these street boundaries:

  • Lakeside Road
  • South Main
  • Main Street
  • Industrial/Okanagan Avenue
  • Alison Street
  • Penticton Creek
  • Syer Road

An additional 116 properties in Upper Carmi area and one home north of Heritage Hills is under an alert, while the Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park has also been placed under warning.

Erick Thompson, emergency operations centre information officer, told CTV News Vancouver that drivers in the area should also be cautious and make room for first responders.

“We have a lot of people who are on the highways watching this fire, and that’s become a very dangerous situation, so anyone in the area should give first responders as much room as possible to operate, including out on the water,” Thompson said. 

“Skaha Lake boaters should avoid Skaha Lake today at all. (They) shouldn’t be out there because we have skimmers and a lot of air traffic out there as well.”

Thompson said the area director called him Tuesday night and was “very, very concerned.”

“He said that he is watching the fire cascade down the mountain, and he said it is like a slow motion nightmare.” 

An evacuation alert, the Regional District of the Okanagan Similkameen says, is to prepare residents in case of an evacuation order.

Anyone with an evacuation alert can register with emergency support services now in case they need to evacuate in the near future. Details on registering can be found here. https://ess.gov.bc.ca/ 

This is a developing story. Check back for updates throughout the day.  

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