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UPDATED: Eagle Bluff wildfire prompts evacuation alerts, air quality statement

New wildfire threatening properties in the south Okanagan

An evacuation alert has been issued by the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen (RDOS) for properties north of Oliver in Electoral Area C.

The RDOS issued the alert because of a 225-hectare wildfire burning at Eagle Bluff.

The alert includes all properties on the east side of BC Highway 97, extending south from McIntyre Creek Road to James Way south of Gallagher Lake, including Brauns Road and Gallagher Lake Road; all properties on James Way, and then extending southeast to McKinney Road at Manuels Creek Road; and extending to the north along the west side of Manuels Creek Road to approximately 3.5 km on McIntyre Creek Road.

WATCH BELOW: South Okanagan Rehabilitation Centre for Owls evacuated

Extended interview: South Okanagan Rehabilitation Centre for Owls evacuated
Extended interview: South Okanagan Rehabilitation Centre for Owls evacuated

The RDOS also said that more properties may be affected.

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The area affected by the evacuation alert.
The area affected by the evacuation alert. RDOS

Environment Canada has also issued a special air quality statement for the South Okanagan due to smoke.

The statement is in effect for the following communities:

  • Penticton
  • Summerland
  • Naramata
  • Keremeos
  • Oliver
  • Osoyoos

Environment Canada said it’s important to be aware that exposure to wildfire smoke could affect health.

“People with pre-existing health conditions, the elderly, pregnant women and infants, children and sensitive individuals are more likely to experience health effects from smoke exposure,” it said in a statement.

More information about the special air quality statement can be found on Environment Canada’s website.

WATCH BELOW: Video of skimmer planes swooping down on Vaseux Lake near the Eagle Bluff fire. Video courtesy of Marg Swartz.
Skimmers on Vaseux Lake helping fight Eagle Bluff fire
Skimmers on Vaseux Lake helping fight Eagle Bluff fire

The BC Wildfire Service said it responded with 10 personnel Sunday night, four of which stayed overnight, and is assessing the fire to determine if evacuation orders need to be issued.

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The service said in a tweet that roughly 100 personnel have been assigned to the fire along with six helicopters and two water tenders. Those resources will be arriving throughout the day.

The RDOS says that under an evacuation alert, residents need to be prepared to evacuate their premises.

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“Property owners will be given as much advance notice as possible prior to an evacuation order; however, you may receive limited notice due to changing conditions,” it said.

WATCH BELOW: A resident near Gallagher Lake, B.C. talks about the evacuation alert for her property

Extended interview: A resident near Gallagher Lake, B.C. talks about the evacuation alert for her property
Extended interview: A resident near Gallagher Lake, B.C. talks about the evacuation alert for her property

The RDOS also urged people to be proactive and prepare for evacuation by doing the following:

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  • Locating all family members or co-workers and designating a meeting place outside the evacuation area, should an evacuation be called while separated.
  • Gathering essential items such as medications, eyeglasses, valuable papers (i.e. insurance), cell phone chargers, immediate care needs for dependents and keepsakes (photographs, etc.). Have these items readily available for quick departure.
  • Preparing to move any people with disabilities and/or children.
  • Moving pets and livestock to a safe area.
  • Arranging to transport household members or co-workers in the event of an evacuation order. Affected residents needing transportation assistance from the area can call the RDOS Emergency Operations Centre at 250-490-4225.
  • Arranging accommodation for family members, if possible. In the event of an evacuation, reception centres will be opened if required. Call 250-490-4225 for information.
  • Monitoring news sources for information on Evacuation Orders and locations of Reception Centres.

The RDOS said only first responders, such as police, fire, search and rescue, or local government staff will come to residents’ doors.