West Kelowna  

97C wildfire - the latest

5 p.m. update:

Boaters are interfering with aircraft attempting to reload with water in Okanagan Lake. Boaters are moving into the area in an attempt to take a closer look at the activity or get photos with their cellphones; and, emergency officials need boaters to stay well clear of the aircrafts’ reloading areas for their own safety, the safety of the pilots and to avoid interfering with the wildfire fight.

Some Glenrosa residents are expressing concerns and anxiety about the number of aircraft flying over their neighbourhoods.

At this time, the Drought Hill Fire is the only active blaze in the area, and the wildfire is burning approximately two kilometres from the nearest Glenrosa residences. An Evacuation Order will remain in place for one property in the 4700 block of MacKinnon Road and no further Evacuation Orders or Alerts are anticipated at this time.

Structural fire crews from the Districts of Peachland and West Kelowna and forest fire crews with the BC Wildfire Management Branch have been working steadily throughout the day and have kept the blaze 40 hectares in size, according to the latest reports from the BC Wildfire Management Branch. Officials on site are reporting that the fire is not yet contained but state that crews continue their work to establish guards through rough terrain. The potential for localized wind gusts and hot, dry weather remain concerns.

Fire crews continue to assess the situation and determinations will be made Saturday as to whether or not the Highway 97C Visitor Information Centre can open and if single lane closures will remain in effect in each direction on the Okanagan Connector - Highway 97C, approximately four kilometres west of the junction with Highway 97. For the latest highway information visit www.drivebc.ca.

3:10 p.m. update:

Structural fire crews from the Districts of Peachland and West Kelowna and forest fire crews with the BC Wildfire Management Branch continue to pour significant resources in to the Drought Hill Forest Fire.

Eighty-seven firefighters, two water tankers on the ground and six aircraft are working to keep the wildfire at bay.

With little wind activity so far today, crews have been able to keep the blaze to 40 hectares in size. The fire is not yet contained and crews continue to work to establish guards through rough terrain. The potential for localized wind gusts and hot, dry weather remain concerns. An Evacuation Order will remain in place for one property in the 4700 block of MacKinnon Road.  No further orders or alerts are anticipated at this time.

The Visitor Information Centre on the south side of the Okanagan Connector - Highway 97C across from the fire will remain closed today in the interest of public protection and the safety of air and ground crews fighting the fire.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure reminds motorists of westbound and eastbound lane closures along Highway 97C the Okanagan Connector, approximately four kilometers from the junction with Highway 97.  Watch for emergency vehicles in the area.  For the latest highway information visit www.drivebc.ca

Emergency response personnel request that the public:

  • Slow down on Highway 97C through the fire zone, stay away from emergency vehicles and watch for lane closure signage and traffic personnel.  
  • Monitor www.cordemergency.ca, www.facebook.com/CORDEmergency or www.twitter.com/CO_Emerg  for confirmed information about the situation.
  • Please only CALL 911 in case of emergency.

12:05 p.m. update:

The Drought Hill wildfire is now estimated at 40 hectares in size. Currently there are 85 personnel working the fire consisting of Wildfire Management Branch personnel and members of the Peachland and West Kelowna Fire Departments. 

Airtankers are working to reinforce retardant lines established yesterday. Four water bombers and two helicopters are working to cool hot spots to aid ground crews in establishing guard around the fire’s flanks.

Winds were calm overnight which helped firefighters prevent the fire from growing substantially. Ground crews will keep a close eye on the weather today as there is the potential for extreme fire behaviour, gusty winds and high temperatures.

A Local State of Emergency remains in place to facilitate the evacuation of one home on the 4700 block of MacKinnon Road in West Kelowna due to the Drought Hill forest fire. More information can be found on the CORD website.

There is a lane closure in effect westbound on Highway 97C four kilometres west of the junction with Highway 97. We urge the public to only use this route if necessary. Boat traffic should also be conscious of aircraft gathering water nearby on Lake Okanagan. 

To report a wildfire, please call to 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 on cellular networks.

Update -- 11 a.m.

The BC Wildfire branch will be providing an update on the Drought Hill fire later this afternoon.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Transportation is reminding motorists about lane closures along the Okanagan Connector due to the wildfire, and to watch for emergency vehicles in the area.

The public should slow down through the fire zone and stay away from emergency vehicles.

Original story 6:45 a.m.

It was a relatively quiet night on the forest fire line near Hwy. 97C.

The fire, burning across the street from the tourist information booth was estimated at 30 hectares Thursday night. Crews will map the fire later today to see if there was any growth overnight.

A 20 person wildfire crew stayed on the fire throughout the night, and also watched to ensure sparks did not cross the highway.

The fire is situated above Peachland, but is only 2,500 metres from properties in Glenrosa. 

The fire started at around 2:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon and quickly consumed acre after acre of forest, mostly driven by strong winds. The blaze was attacked by an aerial assault of four water tankers, two helicopters and one retardant bomber. 

By 7 p.m. the fire was still candling in some trees, but it was not showing the aggressive behaviour that it had earlier in the day.

At 1 a.m. the fire was calm, and down to just a few dozen hot spots.

There were 68 personnel on the ground running fire lines and digging trenches and guards around the fire.

The firefighters managed to save one home on the 4700 block of MacKinnon Road in Peachland, it was the only structure threatened and it was the only home under an evacuation order.


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