More people are being ordered to vacate their homes as the Keremeos Creek wildfire, situated around 20 kilometres outside Penticton, B.C., spreads past previous boundaries.
The Regional District of the Okanagan Similkameen (RDOS) issued more evacuation orders on Thursday afternoon, this time applying to 38 homes south of Ollalla and on the west side of Highway 3A in Olalla.
These are in addition to the 324 properties already on evacuation order and 479 properties on evacuation alert. Just after 3:30 p.m., the RDOS issued an evacuation alert for Farleigh Lake and Marron Lake. In all, that alert was for 38 properties.Also, the Penticton Indian Band has issued an evacuation alert for 11 properties.
Members of the RCMP will be on scene expediting the order.
Jake Ryan was evacuated from his home along Highway 3A two days ago.
He said someone banged on his door and gave him a notice saying he had to leave.
“I’m not really feeling anything, I’m just a little apprehensive about what’s happening here,” he told Global News.
Ryan said he thinks the fire is on the other side of the hill, where there is a big open field and about 160 acres of hay.
The seven-year resident said fires in the area a few years ago seemed worse, but said living in the fire zone is always a concern.
“I don’t think you ever expect it to come close, but it’s one of those things that you have in the back of your mind that you’re worried about,” he said.
Ryan has been staying with a friend in Keremeos since leaving his home behind.
“I said to the search and rescue guy ‘do I have to leave?’ And he said to me ‘well, you’re an adult, you can choose whatever you want to do’ but he said, and he pointed to the RCMP guys out here and he said ‘those guys are willing to assist you off the property.'”
In its most recent update, BC Wildfire estimated the fire at around 4,250 hectares and said that downslope winds in excess of 30 km/h drove fire downhill on Wednesday night, along Highway 3A south towards Olalla.
“Crews worked through the night on structure defence around the Cedar Creek drainage and kept the fire on the west side of Highway 3A,” they said in the update.
“Crews reported rank 4 fire behaviour through the overnight periods. Wind and slope continue to be the biggest contributing factors for increased fire behaviour.”
The Olalla Creek Forest Service Road is closed. This closure is in support of the suppression efforts of the Keremeos Creek wildfire.
There are 137 wildland firefighters assigned to this fire working with an additional 115 structural protection personnel from fire departments across B.C. for a total crew complement of 252 firefighters.
During a press conference held by the RDOS at 2 p.m., organizers said the current forecast, with its cooler temperatures, will be a bit of a breather and should allow things to cool off. However, BC Wildfire added that winds were a concern.
“Cold-front passages are usually associated with higher wind speeds and shifting wind directions which can influence fire activity,” said BCWS. “This cold front is anticipated to produce increased fire behaviour and growth.”