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UPDATE: Spallumcheen, Chase rescind evacuation alerts; warn White Rock Lake wildfire still out of control

Environment Canada calls for temperatures to rise to mid-30s by Friday
Water bombers assigned to the White Rock Lake wildfire spotted near Tronson Road Aug. 8, 2021. (Sue Harnett - contributed)

UPDATE (2:40 p.m.):

The Township of Spallumcheen and Village of Chase are the most recent jurisdictions to rescind their evacuation alerts.

“We would like to stress that the White Rock Lake fire is not out and with projected warmer temperatures forecasted, fire behaviour may change quickly,” the township said in its 2:30 p.m. update.


Cooler weather and precipitation stalled the growth of the White Rock Lake wildfire burning at an estimated 55,700 hectares between Vernon and Kamloops.

BC Wildfire Services ranked fire behaviour yesterday as a Rank 1 or 2 — a smouldering ground fire or low-vigour surface fire below the tree crowns — but in areas on the southeast and northeast flank, moderately vigorous surface fire behaviour was noted, or Rank 3.

Forrest Tower, fire information officer with the BC Wildfire Service, said the weather gave crews a window of opportunity to attack and build guards around parts of the fire.

But warmer temperatures are in the forecast.

A high of 24 C with a minimum relative humidity of 37 per cent is expected today with winds up between five and 10 km/h along Okanagan Lake, where, in parts, the fire is only burning 100 to 250 metres from shore.

The 163 wildland firefighters assigned to the blaze are concentrating on securing the excursions over in the Foley Road area, working backwards to the Monte-Pratt using direct attack methods to limit the spread.

Meanwhile, others are mopping up along the west side of Douglas Lake Road with helicopter support as control lines are secured.

Along the northern flank, crews continue to build a guard along the west and east perimeter of the fire north above Highway 97.

Two-unit crews are working on either side of the northern tip to prevent the fire from spreading northeast towards Paxton Valley and beyond.

In the south, fire crews work to hold containment along Beautiful Road and if conditions are favourable, small-scale ignition operations will help in building the containment line.

Personnel is also patrolling the fire perimeter to handle any areas where the fire may have jumped the containment area.

The City of Vernon rescinded an evacuation alert for most of its roughly 45,000 residents on Aug. 7, saying the probability of ember debris causing spot fires was reduced, but “the region remains at high risk” and the situation could change rapidly.

One of the main concerns when the wildfire service recommended that Vernon issue an alert was that embers could jump across Okanagan Lake, said Tower.

“Luckily, we were able to get a break in the weather and that didn’t happen, but this fire is showing very, very extreme fire behaviour and so… we are expecting, at some point, to be returning to conditions that will lead to that significant fire behaviour.”

The City of Armstrong, portions of Okanagan Indian Band IR#1, the District of Coldstream and portions of the Regional District of North Okanagan also followed suit and rescinded alerts but encouraged residents to stay vigilant and be ready if conditions change suddenly.

Alerts are still in place for the Village of Chase, Regional District of South Okanagan and Thompson-Nicola Regional District.

Several evacuation orders also remain in effect.

— with Brenna Owen, The Canadian Press files

READ MORE: ‘Nowhere to run’: UN report says global warming nears limits

READ MORE: New wildfire sparked north of Lumby


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