Hundreds still on evacuation orders after ‘fast’ flares in the South Okanagan

Hundreds of families in the southern end of British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley were still not home Tuesday as a new aggressive wildfire burns nearby.

The Nk’Mip Creek fire continues to burn on Osoyoos Indian Band lands between the towns of Oliver and Osoyoos, approximately 40 kilometers south of Penticton. The BC Wildfire Service previously called the Inkaneep Creek wildfire blaze, but changed the name on Tuesday.

At 10:00 a.m. PT, the blaze was estimated at 11 square kilometers – an area nearly three times the size of Vancouver’s Stanley Park and an increase from the seven square kilometers on Monday night.

Despite the new measure, the mayor of Oliver said teams that worked on the blaze overnight appeared to have made progress.

“Only visually, from what I can see, things look a lot better. The wind certainly didn’t pick up, but the fire was clearly visible overnight in some areas for sure,” said Mayor Martin Johansen told CBC News on Tuesday.

“I think, you know, we kind of got over the worst at the start. We’ll see where it goes today… everything was set on this fire as quickly as possible.”

Oliver’s Fire Department released a brief video on Tuesday showing the fire in its infancy. The post said crews were working in shifts through the night to protect buildings from the flames.

Frantic evacuations

Hundreds of people were ordered to evacuate the properties on Monday after the wildfire explosion.

The wildfire quickly grew from three hectares (0.03 square kilometers) to over three square kilometers within hours on Monday afternoon. It measured seven square kilometers at 9:00 p.m. PT.

The evacuations went so frantically that authorities were unable to confirm exactly how many people left their homes.

“This is a fast-moving wildfire and a lot has happened,” said Erick Thompson, Okanagan-Similkameen Regional District (RDOS) information officer, in an early morning interview. .

“The total number [of evacuees], I did not have the opportunity to take stock. “

The Oliver-Osoyoos region is a popular tourist destination, known for its vineyards. Oliver’s Legion is open Tuesday morning as a reception center for the evacuees.

All evacuees are requested to register online with Emergency Support Services (ESS), even if they don’t need referrals for help like housing.

The first evacuation order, covering nearly 200 properties, was issued by the Osoyoos Indian Band on Monday evening.

Chief Clarence Louie of the Osoyoos Indian Band said the Oliver Fire Department had done a “remarkable job” to save the homes closest to the blaze.

The evacuated group members are currently staying in hotels in the Oliver-Osoyoos area, he said. Some have chosen to stay.

Flames can be seen in the hills behind the cottages in Oliver, BC (Anita Bathe / CBC)

Meanwhile, the RDOS has put in place an evacuation order for several dozen properties east of the wildfire.

Following the order, several dozen properties in the area – as well as in the town of Oliver – are under evacuation alert and are being asked to prepare to leave if an order is issued.

The RDOS declared a local state of emergency. The town of Oliver, which has a population of around 5,000, has also declared a local state of emergency.

Firefighters in the area warned residents on Monday to expect more alerts and evacuation orders.

Evacuees struggle to find accommodation

This fire is one of hundreds of forest fires currently burning in British Columbia, including more than 100 forest fires concentrated inside. As of Monday, there were more than 2,570 properties on evacuation orders across the province.

Residents being evacuated struggled to find safe accommodation, with hotel rooms at a high price.

Thompson-Nicola Regional District President Ken Gillis said there was no place available to stay in Kamloops, Merritt or Salmon Arm.

“They are absolutely full,” he said.

The Nk’Mip Creek wildfire burns approximately six kilometers north of Osoyoos, British Columbia, on Osoyoos Indian Band lands. (BC Wildfire Service / Twitter)

RDOS encouraged evacuees to consider making arrangements to stay with family or friends due to the shortage of hotel rooms. The district also called on tourists to be aware of the forest fire situation around them before traveling to the area.

“Certainly the message from anyone involved in tourism is that this region is always open for business.… The problem is, with wildfires moving quickly, anyone who needs to be in this region or who visits needs to be. very aware of the situation, ”said Thompson, with RDOS.

“The Okanagan is complex that way now.”

15,685 additional properties are under evacuation alert in British Columbia

The weather “a big concern”

The weather indoors is also difficult for fire crews. There was no rain in the southern half of the province over the weekend, and some areas have not seen rain for nearly five weeks.

Conditions should remain hot and dry throughout the week.

“The weather is a huge concern and it’s only mid-July. This is our second, third fire in this area. I won’t be surprised if we get more,” said Johansen, the mayor of ‘Oliver.

“I just hope everyone goes out of their way to be safe and do whatever they can to avoid, you know, accidentally creating fires… We’re all very worried and we have a long way to go. . “

LISTEN | Oliver Mayor Martin Johansen Martin talks about the Inkaneep Creek forest fire:

8:09More homes in the Okanagan threatened by forest fires

Martin Johansen and Anita Bathe chat with Stephen Quinn about the Inkaneep forest fire that terrifies residents of the Osoyoos area. 8:09

Anyone placed under an evacuation order must leave the area immediately.

Evacuation centers have been set up across the province to help anyone evacuated from a community threatened by a forest fire. To find the center closest to you, visit Emergency management BC website.

Evacuees are encouraged to register online with Emergency support serviceswhether or not they access the services of an evacuation center.

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