West Kelowna  

Smith Creek down to 250 ha.

7:30 p.m. update: 

With improved visibly of the fire this afternoon, the Smith Creek wildfire was mapped at approximately at 250 hectares.

Wildfire Management Branch conducted a full response to this wildfire following its detection early yesterday afternoon. Today 65 fire fighters, 10 support personnel, five helicopters and airtankers are responding to the fire.

These ground crews are working in collaboration with the West Kelowna, Peachland, and Kelowna Fire Departments.

This Smith Creek wildfire displayed aggressive fire behaviour earlier today, however that fire activity stayed within the retardant perimeter.

Fire fighters will patrol the perimeter overnight and more fire fighters will join efforts tomorrow.

6:30 p.m. update:

The Smith Creek fire remains active at approximately 400 hectares.

All previous Evacuation Orders and Alerts remain in effect for about 2,100 residents in just over 1,200 homes. 

At this time, the risk to hydro lines being affected by the Smith Creek fire is not as great as it was earlier today.  However, residents should still be prepared to be self sufficient in the event of any power interruption should circumstances change.

Activity has been steady throughout the day with more than 600 residents registering with Emergency Support Services at the Reception Centre located at Mount Boucherie Secondary School, 2751 Cameron Road in West Kelowna. 

Volunteers are there to help evacuated residents with food and lodging needs and may be busy this evening as those who were evacuated last night and have not yet been able to register, take the time to do so. Since the start of the event, 1,400 people have received ESS assistance.

Evacuees are reminded that the Canadian Disaster Animal Response Team (CDART) has been busy at the reception centre assisting those needing help with their animals. As of 3 p.m. CDART and dog control officers have rescued 16 horses, 21 dogs and 21 cats for people residing within the evacuation area.

RCMP wish to express thanks to the residents along the 2200 block of Shannon Ridge Drive who remain in their homes but are generously supporting the Command Post with power and access to other amenities.

In order to continue to provide adequate water supplies for the fire-fighting effort, residents living west of the W.R. Bennett Bridge are asked to continue restricting their household water use and not to water outdoors.

Citizens are encouraged to go to www.cordemergency.ca for the latest news and updated maps of the Evacuation Order and Evacuation Alert areas. Read updated posts at www.facebook.com/CORDEmergency or follow our tweets at www.twitter.com/CO_Emerg. The public information line is 250-469-8490.

Emergency response personnel request that the public:

  • Avoid the Smith Creek area so emergency responders can effectively perform their duties.
  • Okanagan Lake boaters stay away from the active area where helicopters and other aircraft may be filling with water.
  • Monitor www.cordemergency.ca,  for confirmed information about the situation.
  • Please only CALL 911 in case of emergency.
  • Public inquiries can be directed to 250-469-8490.

3:15 p.m. update:

As expected, increased afternoon winds have whipped up fire and smoke activity around the Smith Creek Fire.

Provincial Fire Information Officer, Tracy Wynnyck, on the ground at the fire command post, says despite the increased smoke the fire remains within the 400 hectare fire guard.

"Mainly what it is is it's burning the previous fuels that were unburnt within the retardant line area," says Wynnyck.

"The fire is still within the retardant lines. It's just going back and basically burning those unburnt fuels."

Typically, Wynnyck says that's a good scenario because the fire could eventually run out of fuel.

"Right now the skimmers are still dropping water and so are the helicopters," says Wynnyck.

"The air tankers are on standby so if it starts to challenge any of the retardant lines they will be brought back into service."

While the fire is still listed as 20 per cent contained, Wynnyck says ground crews continue to reinforce and expand the fire guards.

In terms of weather, winds gusting to 40 km/hr are expected today and Saturday.

Some precipitation in the form of scattered showers are also expected in the Okanagan Saturday and Monday.

11:30 a.m. update:

The Smith Creek wildfire has increased in size to 400 hectares - double the estimated size from Thursday night.

With winds from the south expected to reach gusts of up to 40km/hr, fire officials expect the size of the blaze could increase throughout the day.

"Winds continue to be a factor in all of our fires in the region including the Smith Creek Fire. We have cooler temperatures today but winds will continue to challenge our crews on the ground and in the air," says Kamloops Fire Information Officer, Kayla Pepper.

"This fire is a wind driven fire. Yesterday when it started, it moved very quickly and that is partially due to all weather conditions. We had low relative humidity, high temperatures and strong winds."

Pepper says planes were able to get into the air Friday morning to get a better idea of the size of the fire.

She says the Wildfire Management Branch currently has 75 personnel fighting the fire along with seven fixed wing aircraft, including water skimmers and three air tankers.

Firefighters from West Kelowna, Peachland, Kelowna and Lake Country are also actioning the fire.

Fire trucks from Kamloops and Big White were also seen coming into the area Friday morning.

"It's definitely a team effort out there."

Despite the growth of the fire, Pepper says crews have been able to get the fire 20 per cent contained.

"Last night when it cooled down a little bit our crews were able to get some guards adjacent to the structures on the base of the fire," says Pepper.

"They were successful in putting those through."

Pepper says sometimes, during the heat of the day, the fire tends to move uphill and in the evening we get downslope winds.

"Our concern was that the downslope winds could move the fire in the opposite direction so we reinforced our guards on the base of the fire to stop it from burning backwards."

So far, structures are not threatened according to Pepper.

Meantime, it doesn't appear as if weather conditions will be much help to fire fighters.

According to Environment Canada spokesman, Allan Coldwells, wind gusts could reach 40km/hr from the south on Friday.

There is a 40 per cent chance of showers beginning Saturday morning with more heavy winds expected to accompany the precipitation.

Coldwells says Sunday should be dry with another chance of showers predicted for Monday.

At this point there have been 1,100 homes and 2,500 people evacuated.

6:30 a.m. update:

It has been a relatively good night on the fire-lines as crews monitored the Smith Creek fire.

Field reports suggest there were a few flare ups during the overnight hours, but they were knocked down quickly by fire fighter patrols from West Kelowna, Kelowna, Lake Country and the BC Wildfire Management Branch.

Late last night, the fire was estimated at 200-hectares.  Later this morning it’s anticipated an update will be available once crews have had an opportunity to see the fire from the air.

Incident Command for the fire will develop a plan of attack for today taking into consideration weather conditions and other factors.  It’s expected an aircraft and ground crews will resume their vigorous attack on the fire with the goal of building fire guards and working towards containment.

RCMP members continue to staff roadblocks on the perimeter of the evacuated areas and are patrolling throughout.

No new Evacuation Alerts or Orders are in place.  Approximately 2,500 residents from almost 1,100 homes remain out on Evacuation Order.

Residents from about 150 properties on Lenz Road, including the Pinewood Villa Mobile Home Park and from 1898 to 2515 Bartley Road remain on Evacuation Alert and should be prepared to leave their homes on short notice should fire behaviour increase.

A detailed map showing streets and addresses affected by the Evacuation Alert and Evacuation Orders can be viewed here.

The Emergency Support Services reception centre at Mount Boucherie Secondary School, 2751 Cameron Road was open overnight, assisting some evacuated residents with food and accommodation needs.  The centre will remain open today to help those residents who have not yet registered.

In order to continue to provide adequate water supplies for the fire-fighting effort, residents living west of the W.R. Bennett Bridge are asked to continue restricting their household water use and not to water outdoors.

All residents on the west side of Okanagan Lake from Peachland, West Kelowna and Westbank First Nation reserves are encouraged to make personal emergency preparations to ensure they are self-sustaining in the event that there is a loss of electricity for an extended period and that they have enough water for each member of their family.

Update 11 p.m.

BC Wildfire Management Branch has estimated the Smith Creek fire is approximately 200-hectares in size.

Fire fighters from West Kelowna, Peachland, Kelowna and Lake Country along with BC Wildfire Management crews are patrolling the fire area throughout the night and responding to any hot spots that might occur.

During the overnight hours, residents may see bright fires burning related to the Smith Creek fire.  Please do not call 9-1-1 to report this activity related to this particular fire as fire crews are remaining on the scene overnight and are aware of the fire.

Throughout the night, RCMP members are conducting roving patrols to provide security in those areas that have been evacuated.

Wildfire Management Branch is continuing fire suppression efforts on the Smith Creek wildfire. Currently this fire is estimated at 200 hectares and continues to pose a threat to nearby homes.

Wildfire Management Branch conducted a full response to this wildfire following its detection early this afternoon. Multiple airtankers and helicopters assisted our crews on the ground, and more than 21 Wildfire Management Branch personnel remain on site working tirelessly to establish containment of this fire.

These ground crews will be working overnight in collaboration with the West Kelowna, Peachland, Lake Country and Kelowna Fire Departments.

At its peak this afternoon, this wildfire was displaying highly aggressive fire behaviour. Winds may pose a challenge for ground crews tonight and could cause a further increase in fire activity.

Additional resources will assist in responding early tomorrow morning, including aircraft, more ground personnel and heavy machinery.

This wildfire is suspected to be human-caused, and therefore preventable. This is a serious reminder of the risk of wildfire in the Kamloops Fire Centre region.

Numerous Evacuation Alerts and Orders have been issued by the Regional District of the Central Okanagan due to this fire. For more information visit CORDEmergency.ca

For the latest information on fire activity, conditions, and prohibitions, visit the Wildfire Management Branch website: www.bcwildfire.ca.

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