A paddleboarder braves the waves and smoke on Okanagan Lake Wednesday, Aug. 11. (Darren Wolf photo)

A paddleboarder braves the waves and smoke on Okanagan Lake Wednesday, Aug. 11. (Darren Wolf photo)

North Okanagan residents urged to watch for changing fire evaucation alerts and orders

Increased wildfire activity expected over hot, windy weekend

As the potential for wildfire activity increases over the weekend, residents are urged to be on alert.

The Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO) has been working closely with the BC Wildfire Service and Emergency Management BC regarding wildfires in the area.

“The RDNO has a team of staff ready 24/7 should we get a recommendation from BC Wildfire to place additional areas on evacuation alert or an order or make changes to existing alerts and orders,” the district said.

The 58,000-hectare White Rock Lake wildfire continues to be a challenging event for crews. The cooler weather in the past week aided crews in their fight; however, the forecast is calling for winds later on Saturday and into Sunday, so increased wildfire activity is expected. To prepare for forecasted winds, BCWS is continuing to focus heavy equipment and crews on priority areas that they expect could experience increased wildfire activity.

“Because of the expected change in weather, the RDNO will be watching this closely over the weekend and is prepared to act as necessary,” the district said, noting that current alerts and orders remain unchanged from Aug. 10. “Residents are encouraged to remain vigilant over the weekend and watch for possible changes to orders and alerts.”

READ MORE: White Rock Lake wildfire expected to show increased activity

There are currently 195 wildland firefighters, 139 structural protection personnel, 15 helicopters, 15 danger tree assessors/ fallers, 73 pieces of heavy equipment along with the BC Wildfire Service Incident Management Team and additional support staff working on this fire.

This fire spans the boundaries of multiple regional districts, municipalities, and the Okanagan Indian Band. The affected local governments issue evacuation alerts and orders on the recommendation of BC Wildfire, so for information outside of the RDNO’s Electoral Area boundaries, residents should check with their local authority.

The Bunting Road wildfire north of Lumby has merged with the Tsuius Creek wildfire, and the total size is now mapped at 4733.7 hectares.

Control lines are being prepared with heavy equipment and crews, and helicopter bucketing will be used to create wet lines and reinforce the control line during and after the ignition. Planned ignitions may take place to remove pockets of unburned areas.

“It will decrease the likelihood of the fire challenging the guards in this location if fire behaviour increases with the forecasted warm and dry weather this week,” BCWS said.

READ MORE: Smoke cools extreme weather around Mabel Lake wildfire

On the west side, crews and heavy equipment have made significant progress securing this side of the fire, nearest to Mabel Lake. A machine guard was constructed to protect structures along the Mabel Lake Forest Service Road. A thermal imaging scan was completed on the west side on Aug. 10, which will provide location information for hot spot targets that crews will continue to action. On the north side, crews have completed the machine guard and direct attack operation to secure the guard.

The evacuation alert and order remains in place and is unchanged since it was issued on July 26.

There are 16 firefighters working on the Bunting Road wildfire, 14 pieces of heavy equipment, and the Shuswap Complex has eight helicopters available. The Mabel Lake Forest Service Road remains closed.

“Persons who drive into the active fire area create a safety hazard to themselves and the responders in this active worksite,” BCWS said. “Please respect the firefighting efforts and stay clear.”

No significant changes have been reported on the Winnifred Creek Wildfire, where an evacuation alert remains in effect and unchanged since it was issued July 20. Note that provincial campgrounds and rec sites are under the jurisdiction of the Government of British Columbia, so alerts and orders for those sites are issued by the province. Those wishing to drive through or near this area should visit DriveBC’s website to check for closures before departing.

Further information will be issued as updates are received from the BC Wildfire Service. RDNO residents can visit www.rdno.ca and the RDNO Facebook page for more information. A detailed map of all evacuation alerts and orders in the area can be found at EmergencyMapBC.

READ MORE: Aerial ignitions planned for White Rock lake wildfire ahead of gusty winds


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B.C. Wildfires 2021Fire evacuation