UPDATE: Richter Mountain wildfire now estimated at 400 hectares in size

UPDATE (July 28, 2:00 p.m.): The BC Wildfire Service now estimates that the fire on Richter Mountain in the Lower Similkameen is roughly 400 hectares in size, which is nearly seven times the size it was on Thursday.

Jody Lucius of BC Wildfire Service says the increase in size is due to “better mapping now that we have a little less smoke on the fire, [crews] have been able to get a better track on the fire.”

Although the fire is still listed as out of control, Lucius says the wildfire service is “seeing a little bit less activity on it” as of Sunday morning.

Lucius added that there are over 100 personnel on site, including nine helicopters and several pieces of heavy equipment.

“We have actually requested additional resources so we will see some additional crews and equipment on the fire starting (Monday),” she said.

UPDATE (July 27): The Richter Mountain wildfire is now estimated to be 250 hectares in size – four times the size it was on Thursday.

“Yesterday evening, it was 150 hectares as an estimate,” BC Wildfire Service information officer Nicole Bonnett said on Saturday. “And then based on the warm and dry conditions yesterday evening, in combination with the winds, it’s now estimated at 250 hectares.”

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Bonnett said crews “didn’t see the [overnight] downslope winds late in the night or early this morning, so the growth that it did experience yesterday evening pushed the fire away from communities and structures.

“There’s no threat at this point in time to the original structures in areas out there.”

Watch below (Aired Saturday, July 27, 2019): Wildfire on Richter Mountain grows

Wildfire on Richter Mountain grows
Wildfire on Richter Mountain grows

Weather-wise, the region is expected to see sun, clouds, possible rain and gusting winds.

Those winds, Bonnett, said, are expected in the afternoon, which could potentially influence the fire.

Watch below: Viewer video of the Richter Mountain wildfire

Viewer video of the Richter Mountain wildfire
Viewer video of the Richter Mountain wildfire

In related news, Environment Canada has issued a smoky skies bulletin for the Similkameen region

The national weather service says the area can or will likely be impacted by wildfire smoke during the next 24 to 48 hours.

According to Environment Canada, during smoky conditions:

  • Stop or reduce your activity level if breathing becomes difficult or you feel unwell.
  • Stay cool and drink plenty of fluids.
  • Carry any rescue medications with you at all times.
  • Make sure that children and others who cannot care for themselves follow the same advice. Monitor your symptoms
  • Different people have different responses to smoke. Mild irritation and discomfort are common, and usually disappear when the smoke clears.
  • People with asthma or other chronic illness should activate the personal care plans they have designed with their family physicians.
  • If you are unsure whether you need medical care, call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1.
  • If you are experiencing difficulty in breathing, chest pain or discomfort, or a severe cough, contact your health care provider, walk-in clinic, or emergency department. If you are having a medical emergency, call 911.
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The Richter Mountain wildfire is now estimated at 150 hectares, more than twice the size it was on Thursday, and is still listed as out of control.

As a result of the fire’s growth, the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) issued an evacuation alert for 10 properties near the fire.

Burning along Highway 3 in the Southern Interior, between Cawston and Osoyoos, the BC Wildfire Service believes the fire was sparked by lightning on Wednesday.

READ MORE: UPDATE: Richter Mountain wildfire: ‘It was like Armageddon with the wind’

That evening, it was estimated to be 25 hectares in size.

By Thursday, it had grown to around 60 hectares. The blaze, however, was fanned by overnight downslope winds heading into Friday, and it exploded in size.

BC Wildfire noted that warm and dry weather conditions also played a role in the fire’s expansion.

WATCH (July 25, 2019): Tips to protect your home from wildfires

Tips to protect your home from wildfires
Tips to protect your home from wildfires

According to Environment Canada, the weather forecast for Osoyoos on Saturday will be a mixed bag. A mix of sun and clouds, along with a high of 27 C, are expected.

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The national weather service is also calling for a 30 per cent chance of showers with a risk of a thunderstorm, plus 30 kilometre-per-hour winds gusting up to 50 kilometres per hour.

Nicole Bonnett of the B.C. Wildfire Service said 20 firefighters were on the scene overnight and that 67 firefighters will be battling the blaze on Saturday, along with air support, including helicopters that will be bucketing the blaze.

Below are the properties under the evacuation alert:

  • 101 Chopaka Rd.
  • 963 Highway 3
  • 1002 Highway 3
  • 1009 Highway 3
  • 1090 Highway 3
  • 1095 Highway 3
  • 1117 Highway 3
  • 1125 Highway 3
  • 1131 Highway 3
  • 1143 Highway 3