More intense smoke expected from Princeton fire

Smoke forecast for the South Okanagan as predicted by for late Sunday afternoon and early evening.

A wildfire burning just north of the Town of Princeton is giving firefighters everything they can handle — and more.

The fire, about 10 km north of Princeton, was reported at more than 1,500 hectares late Saturday evening — more than seven times the size it was 24 hours earlier.

The BC Wildfire Service is classifying the fire as “out of control.”

The fire is predicted to put heavy smoke into the South Okanagan late this afternoon and early evening, with the provincial Air Quality Health Index at 7 — meaning a potential high health risk to persons with heart and lung conditions.

Interior Health is advising South Okanagan residents to avoid strenuous outdoor activities.

“If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, contact your health care provider: difficulty in breathing, chest pain or discomfort, and sudden onset of cough or irritation of airways,” the IHA recommends.

“Exposure is particularly a concern for infants, the elderly and those who have underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, and lung or heart disease.”

The service has 60 firefighters, two helicopters, heavy equipment and support personnel on site.

The fire has closed Hwy. 5A between Princeton and Merritt and has resulted in a mandatory evacuation order for 60 properties. Another 428 homes are under an evacuation alert.

There are now a dozen “wildfires of note” around the province, including five in the Kamloops Fire Centre. Wildfires of note are described as “highly visible or which pose a potential threat to public safety.”