Update: Wildfires continue to burn in South Okanagan

Hwy. 97 travel requiring RCMP escort

Photographer Gord Goble snapped this stunning photo Wednesday of the Mount Eneas fire marching across Hwy. 97 towards Okanagan Lake between Peachland and Summerland. (Gord Goble photo)

Several fires are burning in the South Okanagan that might impact the Town of Osoyoos — either with drifting smoke or by affecting travel. Here is the latest information as provided by the BC Wildfire Service.

It is worth noting that none of the fires pose a direct threat to Osoyoos and smoke in the region is, at worst minimal and intermittent.

Mt. Eneas fire

A total of 81 properties, plus 168 campsites, were ordered evacuated Wednesday night due to the Mount Eneas wildfire burning about four km south of Peachland.

The fire, which was sparked by lightning Tuesday night, was listed at 1,000 hectares as of Thursday evening.

“Fire behaviour increased yesterday and structures are considered threatened. Structural protection units have been deployed to the area, the Wildfire Service reported in a post Thursday evening.

“There were gusty and erratic winds in the area overnight. Four BC Wildfire Service personnel were onsite overnight last night along with members of the local fire department.”

The service has airtankers, 57 personnel and one piece of heavy equipment on site. Additional resources are expected to be added. They will focus their suppression efforts on increasing containment on the southern end of the fire, near Garnet Valley, where an evacuation alert has been issued by the District of Summerland.

The properties under evacuation order due to the fire are on Brent, North Beach and Callan roads, and Hwy. 97, along with the Okanagan Lake Provincial Park.

Hwy. 97, which the fire has already crossed, is open this morning to single-lane alternating traffic — with RCMP escorting and lengthy delays expected.

 

Mount Conkle

Sparked by lighting Tuesday night about eight kilometres southwest of Summerland, the Mount Conkle fire was pegged at 90 hectares as of Thursday evening.

“The growth on this fire since (Wednesday) is mainly the result of fire suppression tactics. Additional growth is anticipated at suppression efforts continue,” the BC Wildfire wrote in a bulletin.

“The fire is highly visible, but no structures are considered threatened at this time.”

The service has 20 personnel and six pieces of heavy equipment working the fire, which triggered the Penticton Indian Band to issue an evacuation alert for 13 properties on Big Valley and Shingle Creek roads. Seven helicopters are also providing support.

Crews, the Wildfire Service is reporting, “have made good progress toward containing this fire.”

Washington State

The Rocky Reach fire has burned about 1,400 hectares eight km northeast of Wenatchee, located about 230 km south of Osoyoos.

The fire is considered to be 80-percent contained, with 59 personnel and several engines on-site.

“These areas are very steep and pose dangerous conditions for firefighters to access safely, “the state’s Northwest Interagency Coordination Center is reporting. “These areas present no danger to the containment lines. Crews will monitor and allow them burn out naturally.”

Health alert

It goes without saying the smoke-filled air can be hazardous to some people, prompting Interior Health to issue an advisory Thursday morning.

“Smoke affects each person differently, based on his or her health, age and exposure. Smoke exposure can be particularly concerning for infants, the elderly and those who have underlying medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and lung (asthma/COPD) or heart disease as well as pregnant women,” the advisory explains.

Those at risk should limit outside activities and stay indoors if possible.

To date this year, the Wildfire Service has responded to 752 fires, including 173 in the Kamloops Fire Region, which includes the Okanagan Valley.

— With files from Penticton Herald

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