The Christie Mountain wildfire burning in B.C.’s Southern Interior has not grown larger than its 2,000 hectares in the last 24 hours, but how long it will remain that size is yet to be seen.
Friday’s weather forecast includes winds out of the south that are expected to be between 20 to 40 kilometres per hour, with gusts of up to 70 km/h.
WATCH ABOVE: Darrian Matassa-Fung has the latest on the Christie Mountain wildfire
If those winds expand the fire, an evacuation alert in effect for nearly 3,700 properties in the southeast section of Penticton could suddenly turn into an order and force all those people to flee.
As well, a cold front moving onto the South Coast Friday morning will sweep through the Southern Interior in the afternoon, raising the possibility of isolated thunderstorms and lightning.
The winds will pose a significant concern for the spread of the Christie Mountain wildfire later in the day though the weather is expected to settle down considerably on Saturday and Sunday.
Local officials held a press conference at noon, and they talked about the windy forecast.
More than 100 firefighters are on scene, along with 15 helicopters.
Penticton fire chief Larry Watkinson says one concern are flying embers for the fire, which could spark spot fires within the community.
“I haven’t seen any embers that have been active,” said Watkinson, “There’s been some ash falling, but it hasn’t been anything of concern at this time.”
As of Friday morning, just one structure, a house, had been lost to the fire.
Asked how much notification time residents would receive if the evacuation alert is turned into an order, Watkinson said possibly four hours.
“We feel that we’ve given enough time . . . upwards of four hours to do the evacuation based on the growth of the fire’s potential,” he said.
“We feel pretty confident that everybody has been given enough time for the alert to be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice.
“That being said, of course, fire can change very quickly. And if the situation develops rapidly, then we will be making an earlier determination on that trigger point, before that trigger point or even after the trigger point, depending on the fire behaviour.”
On Thursday, Interior Health announced that it had plans in place if Penticton Regional Hospital had to be evacuated, while the City of Penticton was asking those under evacuation alert to register online in case that alert is turned into an order.
The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen has said those on evacuation alert may get very little notice if fire conditions change.