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Planned ignitions around White Rock Lake fire to send smoke across the Okanagan

Click to play video: 'White Rock Lake fire evacuees stressed after multi-week displacement' White Rock Lake fire evacuees stressed after multi-week displacement
WATCH: As the massive White Rock Lake fire continues to menace the west side of Okanagan Lake, some evacuees have spent weeks away from home. Some forced out of their communities at the beginning of August, are now wondering if they'll still be displaced going into the fall. Megan Turcato has more on what wildfire officials are saying about the timeline for a return – Aug 25, 2021

Expect air quality to deteriorate greatly around the Okanagan today and tomorrow as smoke from a sizeable planned ignition within the perimeter of the White Rock Lake fire seeps into the valley.

BC Wildfire information officer Hannah Swift said the planned ignition is for an area of around 300 hectares at the southeast flank of the fire, north of Terrace Mountain, west toward the fire perimeter above Shorts Creek. Fire fighters got underway with this effort around noon today, and are expecting to be aided by winds gusting up to 30 km/hr.

Click to play video: 'Large-scale planned ignition on White Rock Lake fire postponed' Large-scale planned ignition on White Rock Lake fire postponed
Large-scale planned ignition on White Rock Lake fire postponed – Aug 25, 2021

“These ignition operations are critical to achieve more significant containment in areas of the fire perimeter that are inoperable and unsafe for ground crews and heavy equipment to work,” BC Wildfire  said.

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Read more: White Rock Lake wildfire: Number of ‘impacted’ residences now at 78, say officials

Planned ignition operations work by removing unburned fuels from a constructed guard line. This limits the amount of fuels that could otherwise result in high intensity growth of the fire under forecasted weather conditions.

Incident Commander Scott Rennick said that the ignition will “close the door on the back side of the fire” that is currently mapped at 81,300 hectares.

Read more: Okanagan Indian Band initiates evacuation after planned ignition

“The plan is to again walk the fire down the slope to control lines where crews can more effectively suppress it,” he said.

That will bring the fire to the guard line from 2009’s fire on Terrace Mountain.

Depending on where you are in the Okanagan, Environment Canada’s Air Quality Health Index indicates range from 10-plus, which is very high risk to health, to a four over the course of the next couple of days.

The evacuation order for 1,316 properties and alert for 850 properties in the north westside communities within the regional district remain unchanged.

Click to play video: 'On-the-ground look at destruction near Westside Road caused by White Rock Lake fire' On-the-ground look at destruction near Westside Road caused by White Rock Lake fire
On-the-ground look at destruction near Westside Road caused by White Rock Lake fire – Aug 24, 2021

There were 78 properties to date damaged by this fire.

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Property assessment work is ongoing as conditions allow and is subject to change as crews gain further access to affected areas. An online community information session will be held for owners of properties located within the Central Okanagan and those under evacuation order because of the White Rock Lake wildfire.

Click to play video: 'Westside community hub raised by White Rock Lake fire' Westside community hub raised by White Rock Lake fire
Westside community hub raised by White Rock Lake fire – Aug 19, 2021

The session is expected to take place Thursday Aug. 26, 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. The Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre will have more information.

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