Wildfires grow in B.C.: Highway closed and RCMP on alert near Vernon

Click to play video: 'White Rock Lake wildfire a ‘particular concern’ due to wind conditions'
White Rock Lake wildfire a ‘particular concern’ due to wind conditions
WATCH: Rob Schweitzer from the BC Wildfire Service provides an update on the current fire status in the province on Thursday, Aug. 5. – Aug 5, 2021

Concerns are growing for B.C. wildfire crews and residents Thursday, especially in the Vernon area as more evacuations were ordered Wednesday night due to the massive and aggressive White Rock Lake fire.

The entire community of Falkland, about 600 people, have been ordered to leave their homes.

Also along Highway 97, residents of more than 270 properties in the Westwold and Monte Lake area were told to leave immediately.

Click to play video: 'Town of Falkland, B.C., under evacuation order due to aggressive White Rock Lake wildfire'
Town of Falkland, B.C., under evacuation order due to aggressive White Rock Lake wildfire

The highway is now closed between Salmon River Road and Monte Creek, east of Kamloops due to the wildfire. A detour is available via Highway 97A, 97B and Highway 1.

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The next update is on Saturday at 8:30 a.m. PT.

Rob Schweitzer, director of Fire Centre Operations with the BC Wildfire Service said Thursday the White Rock Lake fire is the biggest concern in the province right now.

There is heavy smoke in the area and the fire is very aggressive on the northern flank.

Read more: White Rock Lake wildfire destroys buildings in Monte Lake

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On Thursday, the RCMP said additional members are on standby and supporting the Vernon RCMP detachment due to the possibility more evacuation orders may be necessary as winds are expected to pick up.

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RCMP spokesperson Dawn Roberts said officers in the area are going door to door in the area to inform residents of all the impacted properties.

In addition, so far police have not received any reports of any issues with properties in any of the evacuated areas.

On Wednesday night, the Okanagan Indian Band expanded an evacuation order to include more homes near Okanagan Lake.

Emergency Management BC believes this fire may now have affected about 2,000 properties.

The White Rock Lake fire is an estimated 32,500 hectares in size and there is concern that strong winds on Thursday and Friday could make it grow even bigger.

Thirteen helicopters have been assigned to this fire, along with 136 wildland firefighters, 99 of which are from Quebec.

Click to play video: 'BC Wildfire Service update on White Rock Lake Fire for August 4'
BC Wildfire Service update on White Rock Lake Fire for August 4

There are almost 300 wildfires burning in the province with 38 sparked in the last two days.

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The Sparks Lake wildfire remains the biggest at a staggering 68,511 hectares. It is burning north of Kamloops Lake and is still out of control.

The BC Wildfire Service says the fire remains active along the northern flank and is growing moderately in a north and north-east direction. With forecast high temperatures and low relative humidity over the coming days, fire activity will remain high along the northern and northeast flanks.

However, it has not moved west or east significantly and there is low fire behaviour on the west and southeast flank. As areas in the south are being secured, crews will move up along the eastern and western flank to create control lines and direct attack where possible towards the north of the fire.

Read more: Evacuation order rescinded for Brenda Creek wildfire, blaze now considered held

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There has been some good news, however, for residents near the Brenda Creek wildfire, about 40 kilometres west of West Kelowna.

On Thursday morning, the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) rescinded the evacuation order for Electoral Area H. In all, the rescinded order affects 41 properties.

That fire is estimated at 824 hectares, and has been for several days.

It’s still classified as out of control, but 18 firefighters, three helicopters and 12 pieces of heavy equipment are battling the blaze.

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Click to play video: 'Timelapse of White Rock Lake wildfire'
Timelapse of White Rock Lake wildfire

In the Cariboo, crews continue to battle the North East 100 Mile Complex consisting of 17 wildfires, including two wildfires of note — the Canim Lake wildfire and the Flat Lake wildfire.

The Wildfire Service said if conditions on site of these fires are favourable, planned ignition operations will be considered for both.

Read more: B.C. wildfire map 2021: Location and size of the fires burning around the province

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The Canim Lake wildfire, at 3,026 hectares, is burning in steep and challenging terrain. Smoke is expected to be visible to surrounding communities.

The Flat Lake wildfire, at 53,211 hectares, continues to see the most activity along the west flank. The Wildfire Service said if conditions on-site are favourable Thursday, planned ignitions are being considered for the remaining portion of the southwest corner.

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Click to play video: 'Smoke from B.C. wildfires fouls Vancouver air'
Smoke from B.C. wildfires fouls Vancouver air

Firefighters are also bringing in heavy equipment to fight a new wildfire northwest of Squamish.

The North Cloudburst Mountain fire is not a wildfire of note but it is about five hectares in size. There are 21 personnel and three helicopters currently working on this fire, which is suspected to have been human-caused.

There is some rain in the forecast for parts of B.C. Thursday and into Friday but the question remains as to whether enough precipitation will fall to help with the wildfire fight.

In total, there are 32 local states of emergency in the province. There are 4,228 properties on evacuation order and 21,043 properties on evacuation alert.

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