UPDATE THURSDAY: The evacuation order for about 70 homes on Westside Road still remains. The fire has now grown to 460 hectares in size and is still considered potentially aggressive. Four helicopters have been called on to fight the fire from the air. With the cooler weather and lighter wind, crews are reporting steady progress on the fire fight.
Up to 70 homes remain on evacuation order after the fire ballooned to 430 hectares Tuesday.
The fire started Sunday evening as a result of a lightning strike, but didn’t flare up and become a threat until Monday evening. No structures have been lost to the fire.
The Kamloops Fire Centre says along with the rain, there were about 50 lightning strikes within the Kamloops Fire Centre.
Officials say there was no growth in the fire overnight Tuesday and that fire crews remain on site protecting homes and structures. The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations says crews are getting the upper hand on the blaze due to the dropping temperature and higher humidity. They have done a controlled burn down to the edge of Westside Road, which will prevent the fire from jumping. However, it is still not contained.
More than a 1000 residences remain without power because of the fire. There’s also a boil water advisory in effect for the area because of the outage.
The weather forecast calls for a 30 per cent chance of rain today with the possibility of lightning.
A smoke advisory remains in effect.
NEAR WEST KELOWNA — The Westside Road fire has grown from 175 hectares Tuesday morning to 430 hectares Tuesday afternoon, but at this point fire crews don’t believe any homes have been destroyed.
“The fire came really close to some of the structures,” Central Okanagan Regional District communications officer Bruce Smith said. “But at this point, even though it is an active fire, we are not aware of any structures known to be lost.”
An Evacuation Order is still in place for roughly 70 homes, as crews battle the aggressive wildfire near West Kelowna.
Isabel Pilato was one of the people forced to evacuate last night. She had ten minutes to pack what she could before leaving her Cinnabar Creek home – while her husband went to fight the blaze as a volunteer.
“The hardest part is knowing that my husband is on the fire,” she said.
“He was on the fire until 8 a.m., is fast asleep right now, and he’ll probably be on the night shift, probably for 12 hours.”
While she was relieved that her home was safe, she said the wind naturally comes down from the mountain to the lake – meaning it will likely be another harried night for them.
“We haven’t lost the house. It’s always a possibility, but I don’t much care so long as I don’t lose the firemen.”
RCMP members are continuing to conduct security patrols within the Evacuation Area.
The lightning-caused fire started Sunday, but flared up Monday night due to heavy wind, and ballooned to 30 hectares. The fire is still zero per cent contained and is currently burning Rank 4, which is a highly vigorous surface fire.
WATCH: Reporter Lauren Pullen shows us the dramatic moments after the evacuation order is put in place.
The Evacuation Order covers the following area:
An emergency social services centre has been set up at the Westside Lions Community hall on 2466 Main Street in West Kelowna.
The Emergency Support Services Reception Centre, located in the Westside Lions Community Hall, 2466 Main Street in West Kelowna will reopen at 8:30 a.m.
Only those residents within the Evacuation Order area should register for assistance by ESS volunteers with food, lodging and clothing needs.
“If they’ve got somewhere to stay, we’ll help them with clothing or food…If they don’t have somewhere to stay, we’ll help them find a place to stay,” says Catherine Williams, Volunteer Coordinator with Emergency Support Services. She says about 50 of the 70 homes, many of which are vacation cottages, had residents in them yesterday.
“We’re getting too good at this, unfortunately.”
Twenty-three firefighters are on the scene along with the local fire department. On Tuesday, skimmers were requested to action the fire as well as two helicopters and two 20-person sustained action Unit Crews.
While power inside the evaucation zone is still completely cut off, power has been restored on a rotational basis to other homes near Westside Road. B.C. Hydro has brought in generators and hopes to have the power on continually for those homes by Friday.
Click here for the latest from B.C. Hydro.
The Regional District of the Central Okanagan says there are no Evacuation Alerts associated with this fire. Neither La Casa Resort nor Lake Okanagan Resort are under the Evacuation Order or Alert as of Tuesday afternoon.
Westside Road is still closed between Cinnabar Creek and La Casa Resort. Click here for the latest road information.
Volunteers with the Canadian Animal Disaster Response Team (CDART) are on hand to help evacuees that have animals or may need help. Call 250-809-7152 for assistance.
On Tuesday, July 21: Communication Officer Bruce Smith with the Central Okanagan Regional District gives an update on the fire: