Special to OsoyoosToday
In an effort to tilt the table in their favour, firefighters on Sunday merged two fires between Summerland and Peachland into one.
Using a helicopter to drop plastic balls containing a chemical that bursts into flame on impact, the BC Wildfire Service intentionally burned off about 150 hectares of ground cover between the Mount Eneas and Munro FSR fires.
“Our choice came down to do it now, when we’re kind of initiating it, or wait for the wind to do it on its own,” incident commander Glen Burgess told reporters at an afternoon briefing.
“When this burn is completed, if everything goes as planned, we’ll be in a much better position,” he added later.
“We’ll have the fire out to containment lines where our crews can work on it and we won’t have any large-scale pieces of unburned fuel that we’re worried about going up later on.”
The Mount Eneas fire was estimated at just over 1,500 hectares Sunday evening.
Mr. Burgess, who’s managing a handful of Okanagan fires as a single event, said a forecasted spike in temperatures later in the week also helped him decide to pull the trigger Sunday while it was still relatively cool.
And with crews beginning to gain the upper hand, he suggested property owners would also be able to rest easier.
“If everything goes as expected, we’re hoping we’ll be able to make a recommendation to downgrade alerts, orders and whatever else is left,” he said, adding he was not aware of any structures being lost to the Mount Eneas fire.
As of Sunday afternoon, there were just five properties under an evacuation order and 90 more under an evacuation alert issued by the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen due to the blaze.
Another 698 properties within the Central Okanagan Regional District were also under an evacuation alert.
Evacuation orders for dozens of other properties within the fire area were rescinded Saturday by the regional districts.
Elsewhere in the South Okanagan on Sunday, the Mount Conkle fire southwest of Summerland was pegged at 118 hectares with 90 per cent containment, according to the BC Wildfire Service, which had 48 personnel on the ground.
Across the lake, two fires were still burning near Naramata: the 25-hectare Glenfir fire and 55-hectare Paradise Ranch fire, neither of which was listed as a fire of note by the service.
Just to the north of those and within Okanagan Mountain Park, the Goode’s Creek fire had bulged to 400 hectares with 20 personnel on the ground, but there were no evacuation orders or alerts attached to it.
And in West Kelowna, the Law Creek fire was listed at 10 hectares with 11 personnel on scene.
Elsewhere in the region, the Snowy Mountain fire about 14 kilometres south of Keremeos was pegged at 1,360 hectares, but with no efforts being made to contain it due to its remote location and rugged terrain.
BC Parks has, however, closed the Ewart and Wall Creek Trails.
Also in the Similkameen, the Placer Mountain fire 37 kilometres south of Princeton had grown to 320 hectares with 18 personnel, three helicopters and seven pieces of heavy equipment at the scene.
— Penticton Herald