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Penticton  

Evacuation alerts issued due to new wildfire on Highway 3

29 properties on alert

UPDATE 11:20 a.m.

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen has placed 29 properties on evacuation alert as a result of a new wildfire burning along Highway 3 between Osoyoos and Cawston.

The fire, which sparked from an overnight vehicle fire, has grown to 40 hectares in size.

The evacuation alert is for properties in the Sumac Road area along Highway 3.

Click here to access the list of properties placed on alert.

The alert was issued due to the potential danger to life and health from the fire.

Affected residents should prepare to evacuate their property if conditions warrant.


UPDATE 10 a.m.

The BC Wildfire Service says a team of 33 ground crew members are now battling a wildfire sparked overnight by a vehicle fire on Highway 3 near Chopaka.

The fire is now estimated to be 40 hectares in size. It is also being attacked by aerial resources and the Keremeos volunteer fire department.

The incident command team at the Keremeos Creek wildfire just north is managing the fire, said a BCWS spokesperson.

DriveBC reports Highway 3 is still open to single-lane alternating traffic.

"Limited visibility with smoke. Watch for traffic personnel. Be prepared to stop," DriveBC said.


ORIGINAL 6 a.m.

A vehicle fire overnight sparked a new wildfire west of Osoyoos.

The fire is between Osoyoos and Cawston, near the Nighthawk turnoff and spread from the vehicle to the forest.

The BC Wildfire Service dashboard shows a new ignition off Highway 3 estimated at four hectares in size, near Sumac Road.

DriveBC first reported the incident about 3:30 a.m.

It reports the vehicle fire between Chopaka Road and Nighthawk Road.

The highway is reduced to single-lane, alternating traffic for 6.6 kilometres, from 18 km east of Keremeos to 20 km west of Osoyoos.

Watch for traffic personnel and be prepared to stop.



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Highway 3A reopens near Keremeos Creek wildfire

Highway 3A open again

UPDATE 10:20 a.m.

Highway 3A around the Keremeos Creek wildfire is again open to traffic.

The highway linking Keremeos to Highway 97 and the Okanagan Valley, has been closed for a week due to the wildfire.

The BC Wildfire Service says the fire is no longer a threat to the highway, however speed restrictions are in place and there is the "potential for temporary closures as required by fire officials."

Road restrictions and active flagging is also in place on Highway 3 due to a new wildfire burning between Osoyoos and Cawston.

RCMP and firefighters are active along both highways.

Meantime, evacuation orders remain in place at Apex Mountain Resort and on a portion of Green Mountain Road. Residents are asked to stay out of those areas.

Evacuation alerts are still in place for select properties along Highway 3A between Twin Lakes and Olalla.


ORIGINAL 6:25 a.m.

Control lines continue to hold well at the Keremeos Creek wildfire southwest of Penticton, the BC Wildfire Service says.

In a Thursday night update, the wildfire service says the fire continues to grow slowly in more inaccessible areas where it is not contained.

Wednesday saw an uptick in fire activity in the Cedar Creek area, and crews continue to apply direct and indirect suppression tactics to achieve containment.

"They are working to encircle the fire along the western and northern flanks given the stable containment lines on the southern and eastern sides of the fire. Planned ignitions for target areas will not proceed unless adequate drying and heating conditions are in place," BCWS says.

There is potential for a two-kilometre strip to be burned off, to tie into previous ignitions to solidify control lines northwest of Olalla, along the Olalla Forest Service Road. Residents should expect increased smoke.

Key work areas remain Olalla FSR, Green Mountain Road to the north, Hedges Butte, Keremeos Creek FSR, Winter Creek, the Apex Mountain Resort area, Cedar Creek, and Dividend Mountain.

Drone-operated thermal scanning was carried out again to assist crews in eliminating hotspots along Sheep Creek Road.

"These activities are helping facilitate the return of evacuees and the reopening of this area," says BCWS.

The fire is estimated to have burned 6,712 hectares, the revised size the result of a more accurate track on the northern portion of the fire by ground crews.

Overnight patrols, hotspotting and mop-up in the wildland-urban interface continue along Highway 3A and key sections of the fire guard.

Variable cloud with isolated showers or thunderstorms is expected today.

The BCWS Structure Protection Branch continues to protect properties in all areas of concern at the fire’s edge and has begun demobilizing equipment in specific areas as appropriate.

No structures were lost in the last 24 hours.



BC Nature Trust purchases key conservation land in South Okanagan

Land saved for generations

The Nature Trust of British Columbia has purchased one of the last remaining private properties in the White Lake Basin for conservation, thanks to the generous donors.

The conservation area spans 65 hectares and will be integrated into the already conserved 8,222 hectares of the White Lake Basin Biodiversity Ranch.

Since 1996, The Nature Trust of BC has permanently acquired 13 parcels of private land in the White Lake Basin Biodiversity Ranch. The non-profit group is dedicated to building conservation locations over time.

"Contiguous natural grassland and its associated ecosystems support a diverse and thriving community of native plants and animals and are recognized as one of BC’s most threatened ecosystems," explains the Nature Trust.

"Grasslands represent less than 1 per cent of the provincial land base, yet support over 30 per cent of BC’s known threatened and vulnerable plant and animal species. They also act as carbon sinks, supporting climate regulation due to their sequestration of atmospheric carbon in their deep root systems underground."

The group launched a crowdfunding campaign earlier this year to raise the last $200,000 needed to purchase the property, called Park Rill Creek Infill West.

Donor funds combined with government dollars enabled The Nature Trust to purchase this property and protect sensitive ecosystems and native species against development for generations to come.

Acquisition of this conservation area will also facilitate a viable domestic cattle ranching operation, while being able to protect the most vulnerable ecosystems from disturbance.

The White Lake Basin Biodiversity Ranch is one of the leading biodiversity ranches in BC and has been ranked the highest in conservation value in all of The Nature Trust of BC’s conservation holdings.

“As we face rapid biodiversity loss and climate change, nature is our biggest ally. Large scale nature conservation is a strong tool to ensure biodiversity can flourish undisturbed while also helping to mitigate against climate change. We are delighted to be able to preserve connectivity among rare and threatened ecosystems in the White Lake Basin, through the purchase of this property and take steps to support climate regulation through conservation," said Jasper Lament, Nature Trust CEO.

Ninety five per cent of the property contains sensitive ecosystems and rare and diverse species in need of urgent protection. A number of endangered birds utilize the property including the Lewis’s Woodpecker, Barn Swallow, Flammulated Owl, and Grasshopper Sparrow.

Many other federally listed animals also call the area home such as the Pallid Bat, American Badger, Western Tiger Salamander, and Great Basin Gophersnake.

The project was supported by the federal Department of Environment and Climate Change and private donations from Val and Dick Bradshaw, Jane MacDonald, and many others.

Over the past 50 years, The Nature Trust of BC has acquired and cared for over 180,000 acres of our province's most critical natural habitat for vulnerable wildlife and plants.

For more information on the Trust click here.



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Penticton immigrant shares story of tough start in Canada that led to success

Hard start leads to success

“Community Champions” is a media campaign led by the South Okanagan-Similkameen Local Immigration Partnership and supported by Castanet. We share stories that raise awareness about the contribution immigrants make to the community while introducing the small businesses of new Canadians.

An immigrant to Canada who had a rough start to his experience has found new footing, community and success in Penticton.

Shalindra K.C. is originally from Nepal. Before moving to Canada, he and his wife Laxmi lived in Dubai for eight years. He worked in the retail sector, at a large Spanish chain of grocery stores. As an administrator, he supervised over 90 employees, coordinating multiple business aspects from human resources to finances.

“Everything was good. The job was good. But everything is temporary there. You cannot apply for a permanent residency. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you have lived there for one year or a hundred years. One day you will have to go back to your home country,” said Shalindra.

The couple decided to move to Canada. An immigration consultant promised Shalindra that he would have a job in retail, which would lead to a permanent residency. However, when he came to Vancouver in April 2013, the job was not available.

“There were about a hundred people like me brought by that immigration consultant. I was jobless for two months. I came with only $1,000 hoping that I will start working right away. I had no accommodation, no food. There were 10 or 12 of us living in one basement. We were sleeping on the floor, surrounded by cockroaches. When it rained the basement would get flooded, and we had to move our luggage somewhere to save our belongings," Shalindra said.

He was sent for training to Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories where he stayed for four months. When he returned to Vancouver, the job that was promised to him was still not available. The immigration company sent him to yet another two-month training in Surrey, without pay.

“I had no money for the bus fare, so I had to walk to work, which took me almost two hours one way. We used to go to a Hindu temple to get food. It was not the happiest time of my life,” he recounted.

Finally, he was offered a job at Mac’s convenience store in Summerland. He had to rent a two-bedroom house, because nothing smaller was available. His salary barely covered the rent. When his wife Laxmi joined him and started to work, they were able to make the ends meet. Shalindra worked very hard, and was promoted to a store manager position.

“Everything was good but then we found out that our work permits were expired and our Provincial Nominee application was declined. Luckily, we received our permanent residency through the Express Entry program, as we were already working here. My store manager, Scott Gillespie, helped me with this.”

Currently, Shalindra works as a store manager at 7/11 in Summerland and also owns his own financial business, a franchise of the Experior Financial Group.

As a senior financial advisor, Shalindra offers a number of services, including life, disability, critical illness and travel insurances, health and dental coverage, as well as various kinds of saving plans and investments.

“What I like the most about my business is that I make money for myself only if I make money for other people – my clients. It is also about building your legacy. Whatever money and business I have, I can transfer to my next generation – my son.”

The idea of getting into this business field came to Shalindra when he and his wife were looking for a life insurance.

“We bought a house in Penticton and I was driving to Summerland for work every day. We thought – what if something happens to me or Laxmi? What would happen with our son then? So, we decided to purchase a life insurance," Shalindra said.

After exploring some options, he decided to learn the business for himself.

“I was on a parental leave at the time, so I had some time to do my research. I realized that everyone needs to have financial knowledge. I learned quite a lot, and became interested in this area of business. I like the flexibility of this business and that I could start it with a very small investment. Anyone can do that. I got some training and a license. Now I have more than 300 clients, and, in the future, I plan to have it as a full-time job. I am currently training a few people to join my team and plan to hire more people," Shalindra said, with joy.

Since his business is expanding, Shalindra has already applied for Ontario and Alberta licenses.

Shalindra’s parents and his brother live in Nepal. His father still works and his brother is running a small family-owned grocery store. Shalindra visits them once every six years.

“I miss them. Wish I could see them more often. I can’t wait for my parents to move here with us…I remember being a child and walking to school and back home…those roads, nature… When it’s raining here, I really miss Nepal…the smell of the mud on the roads, the smell of wet wood. This brings me back to my childhood.”

“We have a son – my heart. We are a small and happy family. We are now in a good place and this is 100 per cent because of my wife’s support. Since the first day, she has been very supportive. When we were applying to come to Canada, we didn’t have enough money to move here, but she encouraged me. The same happened when we were planning to buy a house. I am a math guy, so I kept calculating and worrying about how we would be able to pay the mortgage and what we will live on, but she told me not to worry and just do it,” Shalindra said, with a wide smile.

Shalindra is a member of JCI Penticton and the local Chamber of Commerce. Before the pandemic, he was involved in fundraising for the community foodbanks.

Shalindra’s advice for newcomers is to try to learn as much as possible about how various systems work before moving here.

"Don’t think that you will come to Canada and do a certain job. Do your research – find out what kind of education and skills you need for this job. You might need a license for your profession. Research about the financial situation – taxes and other costs. Learn about the health and education systems. These services are not completely free. Most importantly, create a circle of friends and join community groups, such as South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services. They helped us a lot. I got my food safe, first aid and serving it right certificates there. I also attended the Toastmasters program that helped me with my public speaking skills. My wife learned English there. We met many people and developed friendships."

Shalindra volunteers with the South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services (SOICS) by providing workshops for newcomers on financial literacy.

Find out more about SOICS online here.



Evacuation orders have been lifted for another 220 properties

Controlled burn going well

UPDATE: 2:35 p.m.

A little bit of rain has fallen on the Keremeos Creek wildfire Thursday morning, and crews are conducting a two-kilometre controlled burn just northwest of Olalla.

The RDOS Emergency Operations Centre provided an update on the fire situation Thursday afternoon, a few hours after an evacuation order for 220 properties in the Olalla area was lifted.

RDOS information officer Erick Thompson said the evacuation order was lifted as there is currently no present danger for Olalla residents, although the area is now under an evacuation alert in case conditions change.

BC Wildfire Service's Karley Desrosiers said the planned ignition north of Olalla is going well Thursday, but thunderstorms in the forecast could bring gusty winds, which could increase fire behaviour later this afternoon.

The thunderstorms that were forecast Wednesday never made it to the area of the Keremeos Creek wildfire though.

Structural protection firefighters remain on scene at Apex Mountain Resort, which is still under an evacuation order. Desrosiers said she has no timeline for when that order may lift. Structural protection crews are also working in the Green Mountain Road area.

BCWS crews continue to mop up on the southern and eastern flanks of the fire, but it is burning uncontained on the western flank, which is inaccessible to crews.

The EOC will provide another live-streamed update on the fire Friday afternoon.


UPDATE: 1:55 p.m.

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen's Emergency Operations Centre is live-streaming an update on the Keremeos Creek wildfire Thursday afternoon at 2 p.m.


UPDATE: 10:25 a.m.

Hundreds of Olalla residents can now return home after an evacuation order was rescinded Thursday morning.

The Keremeos Creek wildfire was first discovered on July 29, and it's since grown to more than 6,700 hectares in size. The fast-growing fire quickly forced the evacuation of hundreds of homes in the Apex Mountain, Green Mountain Road and Olalla areas.

But Thursday morning, evacuation orders have been lifted for another 220 properties in the Olalla area. These homes are now under an evacuation alert instead, and residents should be prepared to leave at a moments notice if fire activity picks up.

Highway 3A through the area remains open to local traffic only, and RCMP officers continue to patrol the area.

The lifting of the evacuation order comes after 54 homes were taken off the evacuation order Wednesday. At this time, 273 properties remain evacuated as a result of the Keremeos Creek fire, at Apex Mountain Resort and along Green Mountain and Sheep Creek roads. A full map of current evacuation orders and alerts can be found here.

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen's Emergency Operations Centre will hold a live-streamed press conference at 2 p.m. Thursday.


ORIGINAL: 9:45 a.m.

Fire crews are expecting increased fire behaviour at the Keremeos Creek wildfire Thursday, as gusty winds are forecast.

More accurate mapping of the large fire burning southwest of Penticton has brought the most recent size estimate to 6,712 hectares – down slightly from Wednesday's size estimate.

Conditions were favourable for fire crews overnight, and crews continued mopping up in the wildland-urban interface areas, along Highway 3A and in other key sections.

Thunderstorms are forecast in the fire area Thursday afternoon and into Friday.

“In the unstable airmass this afternoon, winds will be light however strong erratic and gusty winds should be expected near thunderstorms,” the BCWS says in an update Thursday morning.

“Crews have therefore been instructed to be prepared for increased fire behaviour and change in fire spread direction.”

Wednesday, there was an uptick in fire activity in the Cedar Creek area, and crews continue to work to encircle the fire along the western and northern flanks. Firefighters have established stable containment lines on the southern and eastern sides of the fire at this time.

The BCWS says residents in the area should expect increased smoke today, as crews may work to burn off a two-kilometre strip to solidify control lines northwest of Olalla along the Olalla Forest Service Road.

A drone-operated thermal scan was taken overnight in the Sheep Creek Road area, to help firefighters identify hot spots. The BCWS says this will help facilitate the return of evacuees in the area.

There are currently 282 BCWS firefighters working on the fire at this time, along with 51 additional structural protection firefighters from fire departments across BC.

Sixteen helicopters are also assigned to the blaze, along with 45 pieces of heavy equipment.



Prices for B.C. vacation homes dip despite steady demand

Demand for vacation homes

The outlook for B.C. recreational property remains solid, with brokers saying some of the strongest markets in B.C. are now providing a haven against the turmoil roiling residential markets at large.

According to Re/Max Canada, high prices for B.C. recreational properties were set to rise even further when it surveyed national markets earlier this year. Tofino, Ucluelet and the South Okanagan were among the strongest, with prices forecast to rise 5 per cent.

But a succession of rate hikes by the Bank of Canada has cooled the market, slowing home sales and prices while boosting inventories.

Recreational properties in many areas remain in demand, however, with rapid price increases giving way to modest price declines as inventories have yet to loosen.

“We think there will be some adjustment in price, but it won’t be very big, maybe 5 per cent, because of the lack of inventory,” said Judy Gray, who co-owns and co-manages Re/Max offices in Port Alberni, Tofino and Ucluelet. “We don’t think they’ll go below 2021 prices. It will take a very big recession; more interest rate increases and more fear [for that].”

Tofino house prices averaged $1.7 million in the first quarter of this year, up 51 per cent from a year ago. In Ucluelet, prices averaged just over $1 million, up 42 per cent from a year earlier.

It’s a similar story in other key markets that have seen an influx in buyers in recent years. Brokers in the Okanagan expected prices to remain relatively stable thanks to limited supply and the desirable nature of the region, which remains one of the fastest growing in Canada.

“Whenever we have these downturns in the economy, we typically – the last few – have not suffered as bad as most other areas, just because of the desirable nature of where we are,” said Jerry Redman, owner and managing director of Re/Max Kelowna. “Supply is probably our biggest problem, and that’s why the prices went up as much as they did because we couldn’t put anything on the market.”

That isn’t changing, especially as construction prices rise and starts slow as developers assess the market.

“I think we’re going to see our recreational stuff slow and stabilize … more than we’re going to see a drop in prices,” Redman said.

A key factor is that the kind of buyer seeking recreational property typically has discretionary income and is less vulnerable to cost-of-living pressures and interest rates.

“There’s not many guys out buying a $4 million house that really care about the interest rates,” Redman quipped.

Many buyers also bring significant equity from larger centres where property values are higher.

Tofino and Ucluelet have seen a notable influx of buyers over the past three years from Squamish, Gray said. Squamish property values rose as people left Metro Vancouver. Now, owners are cashing out and moving to Vancouver Island where a similar outdoor lifestyle and entrepreneurial ethic prevails.

“We call it the ‘Squamish invasion,’” she said. “A lot of those people that are coming from the bigger centres raise their families, then you’re finding that the grandparents are following.”

While activity has slowed in recent months, Gray said this isn’t uncommon in summer.

“The demand for housing is still very high, and there’s a lot of buyers on the sidelines,” she said.

She doesn’t expect people scouting properties now to close on deals until they see what the fall brings. She doesn’t expect demand to ebb, but she doesn’t expect prices to roar back, either.

“I don’t see us rising again for a bit [but] I don’t think we’re going to lose a lot of what we’ve gained,” she said.

One exception may be the South Okanagan, which enjoyed strong growth during the pandemic but was forecast in this spring’s report from Re/Max to see a 20 per cent decline in recreational property sales. The driver was initially a lack of inventory but now it’s a lack of buyers despite a relatively affordable average sale price of less than $650,000.

Karrie Grewal of Crush Real Estate in Penticton said Spirit Ridge in Osoyoos had 25 listings in early August. A year ago, there were none. Waterfront properties that come onto the market are no longer seeing multiple offers, a contrast to the heady days of the pandemic when Grewal sold more than any time previously.

“We’re seeing more price reductions than we’ve ever seen,” she said.

The first week of August saw 93 price reductions, for example. Grewal handled a listing where the price dropped from an optimistic $2.1 million in June to $1.7 million in August.

“It was probably a little ambitious,” she said. “But now they’re just chasing the market down.”

Three-year-old restrictions on short-term rentals in Oliver and Osoyoos have been joined by similar bylaws in Kelowna last summer and in Summerland this spring.

“We had three people looking for vacation properties in Summerland up until that bylaw came down,” Grewal said. “It changes everything, and then we end up with more inventory on the market and now we’re looking for the full-time resident instead of the vacation buyer.”



Princeton getting $750K for public space revitalization

Major downtown revamp

The Town of Princeton is getting a $750,000 upgrade for its downtown core and public spaces.

"Shared public spaces are the heart of communities across Canada. They bring together people of all ages and abilities, supporting businesses and stimulating local economies," reads a news release from Pacific Economic Development Canada.

"In Princeton, as in so many places across Canada, the community is ready to welcome back residents and visitors alike to a vibrant downtown core and public spaces."

The funding, which comes from the Canada Community Revitalization Fund, will enhance a visitor centre and RV campground to welcome visitors back to the region. Various upgrades will be made including installing RV pads and an accessible washroom at a campground, a boardwalk at the visitors’ centre, and wheelchair-accessible sidewalks in the town centre.

“We are so appreciative of the funding. Rural economies were severely impacted by COVID, forest fires and most recently flooding due to the atmospheric river system in November. Investing into economic development to increase our tourism sector will help make our local and regional economy more resilient," said Princeton Mayor Spencer Coyne.

The CCRF was launched in June 2021. The fund provides $500 million over two years to Canada’s regional development agencies to invest in shared and inclusive public spaces.



Motorcycle driver awarded $546,400 in damages after a car hit him near Summerland in 2017

$546K award in crash

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has awarded a 62-year-old man $546,500 in damages following a crash in Summerland nearly five years ago.

On June 13, 2017, Francisco Guiseppe Salvatore Gatti (the plaintiff) was driving his motorcycle in the vicinity of Summerland. The defendant, (Travis Patrick Savin) who was driving a small sedan, pulled up unexpectedly at an intersection and struck the plaintiff on his motorcycle.

Gattis's body then made direct contact with the hood and front quarter panel of the sedan, before being thrown to the pavement.

“The plaintiff at this point, again based on his evidence, utilized his prior training in martial arts to ‘tuck and roll,’” reads a decision from B.C. Supreme Court Justice Briana Hardwick, issued on June 24.

The impact with the pavement after contact still resulted in obvious damage to the motorcycle helmet and Gatti’s dentures.

“The photographs entered into evidence showing the plaintiff’s various skin abrasions further confirmed that the collision occurred with considerable force.”

Imaging studies after the accident revealed that Gatti had suffered a cervical spine injury, issued with the lumbar spine and moderate osteoarthritis with a non-displaced fracture of his right elbow.

Gatti’s doctor stated that he continues to have problems with sleep disruption due to pain, physical pain in his low back, right shoulder, right elbow and head, along with cognitive, memory dysfunction and emotional trauma.

“With regard to proportionality, the severity of Mr. Gatti's symptoms and limitations are mildly disproportionate in intensity and duration to his MVA-related physical injuries,” Hardwick wrote.

A consideration in deciding the severity of injuries caused by the crash pulled in Gatti’s pre-existing spinal degeneration and recent workplace injuries.

Gatti was described as having a full and active life, with full-time employment that he enjoyed and being physically fit, participating in a wide variety of activities.

Witnesses who came forward to speak on Gatti's behalf, solidified the difference between the plaintiff in his pre-accident and post-accident state.

A long-time neighbour now comes over to mow his lawn or shovel snow to help out.

“Prior to the accident, the plaintiff was also an active person and regularly helped out the other more elderly residents of the park with either their houses, yards or other such tasks…the plaintiff does not do much anymore.”

His adult daughter also observed how the accident had impacted the plaintiff’s day-to-day functioning and limited his ability to do things such as ordinary tasks like bending down to pick up something he dropped.

The justice issued the following damages to be paid: $210,000 in non-pecuniary damages, $86,400 in damages for past wage loss, which as noted has been reduced to account for receipt of CERB and CRB benefits; $200,000 in damages for future loss of income-earning capacity; and $50,000 in damages for future care and/or homemaking.

Gatti was off work for about one year following the accident. When he demonstrated the ability to return to work and perform his usual duties, it was not without increased pain and the need for painkillers.

While it was medically appropriate for Gatti to seek sedentary or light work not involving repetitive bending or twisting, he ended up losing his new job for business reasons.

The accident resulted in the loss of competitive employability and his doctor noted that finding new employment with an active disability at his age would be exceedingly difficult, which the judge agreed with.



Try dragonboating for free this weekend on Skaha Lake in Penticton

Try dragonboating for free

If you have ever been curious about dragonboating, now is your chance to try it for free.

The Penticton Dragon Boat Festival is hosting an event on Saturday, Aug. 13 to allow anyone interested in the sport to give it a shot on Skaha Lake.

"Never paddled? No problem! Everyone is welcome to take part. Join us to have some fun in the sun! All equipment provided," says the organization.

At 10 a.m., head to Skaha and sign up to get involved.

Anyone wishing to skip the line can print out a general safety waiver ahead of time and bring it with them to the beach.

Any questions are welcome, and can be directed to [email protected]



Some evacuation orders at Keremeos Creek wildfire are lifted

Wildfire not over yet

Contributed

UPDATE: 3 p.m.

While some residents have been allowed to return home, the situation around the Keremeos Creek wildfire is still in flux Wednesday and everyone on evacuation alert or order is urged to remain vigilant.

Highway 3A has been reopened to local traffic only. The communities of Olalla and Apex Mountain remain on evacuation order, for a total of 493 properties.

At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, BCWS information officer Mikhail Elsay explained they are working to lift even more evacuation orders as soon as it is safe.

"The southern sections of the highway, it's a lot to do with the amount of infrastructure that we put in in terms of structure protection resources. So we have a significant amount of water bladders, hoses, sprinklers, still attached to people's homes that we're working to demobilize at this time,” Elsay said.

“That's the work that's being conducted today, that hopefully we can wrap up so that we can get people back home as soon as possible.”

Those whose evacuation orders have been lifted, a full list of which can be found here on the RDOS interactive map, will receive a "welcome back" package before re-entering their homes.

"Basically it provides a lot of information, everything from garbage collection to drinking water safety and use, food safety if there was retardant dropped on a garden for example or any vegetables or food that you might be growing, things that you need to keep in mind,” EOC information officer Erick Thompson said.

Looking forward, BCWS hopes weather will cooperate, but there are some potential concerns in the forecast Wednesday night.

"We will potentially see a potential lightning event come up through the south part of the province this afternoon into this evening. So it could come with some erratic winds, lightning and potentially some rain as well. So we are tracking that system," Elsay said.

"When the system shows up we will react accordingly."

The Keremeos Creek wildfire stands at 6,836 hectares as of Wednesday afternoon.


UPDATE: 2 p.m.

The RDOS and BC Wildfire Service are hosting a second live update for Aug. 10 on the Keremeos Creek wildfire.

Watch live above.


Contributed

UPDATE: 11:15 a.m.

Evacuation orders near the Keremeos Creek wildfire are down from 547 to 493 Wednesday, and many properties under evacuation alert have had that lifted as well.

The communities of Olalla, Apex and sections of Green Mountain Road remain on evacuation order, but some properties adjacent to those areas have been deemed safe to return to, with the understanding they remain on alert.

Highway 3A will be reopened only for approved local traffic today, and re-entry packages from the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen will be handed out to those returning home.

There are multiple security checkpoints on Green Mountain Road, routes to Apex, and 3A, ensuring those entering are allowed to do so. Residents are asked to respect the evacuation orders and not attempt to return unless they have been permitted to do so, for the safety of themselves and emergency crews.

BC WIldfire Service information officer Mikhail Elsay said work on the wildfire has been progressing well, and thermal scans will be employed to "nail down the the final spots" near communities.

"These drones are very sensitive, they can pick up even very small amounts of heat. So we'll be able to really confirm the work that we're doing out there," Elsay said.

While the progress is good, there is no timeline for when this fire will be fully extinguished.

"This fire is still an out of control wildfire and while we have been making good progress, this fire is still uncontained, and out of control this time, especially on the western flanks," Elsay said.

"It's a very large fire footprint on the landscape. So we're working as hard as we can to get this fire under control, but it'll be a considerable time yet, before we can fully wrap this thing."

Structure protection has mostly gone well throughout the time this wildfire has been burning. One rural home was lost in the early days of the fire, and overnight Tuesday, one outbuilding was lost in the north Olalla area, but no one was injured.

Check the RDOS interactive map online here to enter your property address and find out whether it is under order, alert, or neither. Those whose orders have been rescinded will be notified.

The RDOS will host another update with BC Wildfire Service at 2 p.m. today, Wednesday Aug. 10. Castanet will carry it live.


UPDATE: 10:15 a.m.

Evacuation orders and alerts have changed for the regions impacted by the Keremeos Creek wildfire.

"Evacuation orders have been rescinded for properties from Twin Lakes to just north of Olalla. This includes selected properties accessed homes along Sheep Creek Road," reads an announcement issued by the RDOS Wednesday morning.

Highway 3A will remain closed except for local traffic. Check points have been established along Highway 3A to restrict traffic to only local traffic accessing properties that have been downgraded from order to alert.

"Due to the threat of wildfire, these properties will remain on evacuation alert," the update reads.

The evacuation alert has been lifted for the Twin Lakes area and White Lake Road area.

Check the RDOS interactive map online here to enter your property address and find out whether it is under order, alert, or neither.

The communities of Olalla, Apex and sections of Green Mountain Rd remain on evacuation order.

The RDOS Emergency Operations Centre is hosting a live video conference at 10:30 a.m. to elaborate on these changes.


ORIGINAL: 6:15 a.m.

Planned ignitions at the Keremeos Creek wildfire southwest of Penticton were paused Tuesday due to precipitation.

In a Tuesday evening update, the BC Wildfire Service says additional ignitions may resume when conditions are more favourable.

The fire remains estimated to have burned 6,836 hectares.

With favourable conditions, crews continue patrols, hot-spotting and mop-up in the interface, Highway 3A and along key sections of fire guard.

On the western flank, crews continue to attack the fire from Green Mountain Road to Keremeos Creek Forest Service Road. Heavy equipment continues to be used to establish contingency lines from Apex Mountain over Dividend Mountain to south Keremeos Creek.

Crews have established hand lines along Olalla Creek Forest Service Road and are mobilizing up into Cedar Creek to build line tying into south end of Dividend Mountain.

Firefighters are working to encircle the fire along the western and northern flanks, thanks to increasingly stable lines on the southern and eastern sides of the fire.

Key work areas include Olalla Forest Service Road, Green Mountain Road to the north, Keremeos Creek FSR, Winter Creek, the Apex Mountain Resort area, Cedar Creek, and Dividend Mountain.

The Structure Branch continues to work in the Sheep Creek, Green Mountain and Apex areas, but is reassigning resources as needed.

A key objective is to continue reducing impacts to the public in a timely fashion, the wildfire service says.

"This requires completing mop-up operations in the wildland urban interface to facilitate residents returning home in a safe manner. Crews continue to mop up the fire along Highway 3A corridor to facilitate return of evacuees and reopening of this travel corridor.

"Structure Protection Branch continues to protect properties in all areas of concern at fire’s edge. Night operations continue with both wildland and structural crews patrolling, mopping up as needed."



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