Residents of Apex Mountain Village were given the go-ahead to return home Tuesday afternoon, leaving only a couple of dozen households still displaced by the Keremeos Creek wildfire.
Those returning home will still be on evacuation alert as the risk from the fire has not completely abated but conditions have improved, the Regional District of the Okanagan Similkameen indicated in a morning update.
“Structural protection crews have conducted FireSmart activities for all residential properties at Apex Mountain Village,” the RDOS said in an update.
“This includes moving wood piles and covering structures to reduce the potential of structure fires. Residents and property owners should inspect their properties upon returning.”
A re-entry kit will be provided to residents and property owners and the Apex Mountain Waste Transfer Station will be available for residential garbage drop-off.
While residents are being welcomed home, visitors aren’t.
“If you’re not a resident or property owner at Apex Mountain Village, it’s best if you can avoid the area just while the re-entry process takes place,” Erick Thompson of the regional district said.
“There are still BC Wildfire crews working in the area. They are still working on the Keremeos Creek wildfire so people need to keep that in mind when they’re traveling throughout this region and Green Mountain Road remains on the evacuation order.”
While hundreds are able to go home, an evacuation order remains in effect for 25 properties on Green Mountain Road and Sheep Creek Road and along Highway 3A.
In its latest update about the 6,950-hectare wildfire that’s been burning since July 29, BC Wildfire said conditions remained relatively stable due to moderate temperatures and humidity throughout Monday.
“Crews continue to make good progress on containment lines,” BC Wildfire said.
“A thermal aerial scan is scheduled to be conducted tonight, and tomorrow night, to identify hot spots around the fire perimeter from McKay Creek to Olalla. Once completed, crews will seek and eliminate remaining hot spots.”
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The forecast predicts slightly cooler temperatures and more clouds with moderate daytime humidity for the next few days, with moderate overnight recoveries, though temperatures will resume a warming trend Wednesday and Thursday.
While there has been some stability in the fire fight, there are remaining dangers, including trees that have been damaged by fire becoming unstable and falling.
Read more: Richter Mountain wildfire — No significant overnight growth, blaze estimated at 50-60 hectares
“Ash pits can be hard to detect and can remain hot long after the flames have died down,” BC Wildfire said. “Nearby communities can still expect to see smoke within the fire’s perimeter over the coming weeks. This is common with large wildfires, and smoke will continue to be visible until there is significant rainfall over the fire.”
Smoke appearing from well within the fire perimeter and burned material is common. However, smoke that rises from green, unburned fuel or from outside of fire’s perimeter should be reported.