Severe drought conditions causing White Rock Lake fire to burn deep underground

The White Rock Lake wildfire has been reclassified to being held.
The White Rock Lake wildfire has been reclassified to being held. Courtesy: BC Wildfire Service

The BC Wildfire Service said severe drought conditions are causing the White Rock Lake fire to burn deep underground.

The lightning-caused blaze burning west of Vernon since mid-July is estimated to be 833 square kilometres.

Officials said much of the fire is under control, aside from the portion of the blaze above the Banks Creek drainage area, which has yet to burn down to the control line.

That area is expected to burn freely and put up smoke until it reaches the control line where crews can safely extinguish the fire’s edge, BC Wildfire said in an online update.

That’s prompted fire officials to downgrade the fire’s classification to being held. It was previously considered under control.

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“Given the extent and intensity of this wildfire, residual hot spots and smoke well within the fire’s perimeter will continue to be highly visible over the coming weeks,” the BC Wildfire Service said.

“Hot spots are actively being identified using thermal imaging technology and all hot spots within 100 feet of the fire perimeter will continue to be extinguished by ground personnel.”

Smoking stumps and roots within the fire perimeter pose no risk of fire spread and will continue to burn into the winter, according to fire officials.

Although thousands of people were forced to flee their homes earlier this summer due to the flames, residents have since been able to return home. No evacuation alerts remain in effect.

Click to play video: 'Okanagan residents cheer on firefighters'
Okanagan residents cheer on firefighters

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