Fire 'completely out'

Chantelle Deacon

UPDATE: 3:45 p.m. 

At about 2:30 p.m. residents that were evacuated from Westwood Drive were allowed to return to their homes. 

The fire is completely out, but crews will be staying there as a precaution, according to deputy chief Chris Forster.

"We are going to maintain having fire crews overnight, until about 8:00 a.m. tomorrow," he said.  

UPDATE 12:20 p.m.

Fire Chief Larry Watkinson has confirmed they have achieved 100 per cent containment of the fire. Residents should be allowed back into their homes in "the next couple hours."

The Penticton Fire Department will remain on the scene all night.

UPDATE 12:00 p.m.

The fire continues to hold, but upwards of 40 homes remain evacuated. The evacuation area consists of all of Westwood Drive, in addition to other homes near the fire. 

Fire Chief Larry Watkinson said they are relieved they managed to avoid a complete disaster.

"The fire backed right up into properties onto porches, as close as you can get without losing structures," he said.

Evacuees are being asked to register at Penticton Community Centre reception centre at 325 Power Street.

UPDATE 11:30 a.m.

Penticton Fire Chief Larry Watkinson says crews have achieved 60 per cent containment on the fire, which they are estimating at one hectare in size.

Damage to the roofs of two homes near the fire was not significant, as firefighters were able to douse the spot fires before flames spread.

Watkinson said crews will be working to fully extinguish the fire overnight. He hopes residents of Westwood Drive will be allowed to return to their homes this evening. 

UPDATE 11:00 a.m.

Penticton city manager Peter Weeber says fire is “being managed effectively” and has “not spread beyond the current fire area.”

Damage to a pair of homes has been limited to the roofs of both homes, he said.

A tactical evacuation remains in effect, with our reporter at the scene confirming residents are still not being allowed back into the area.

Firefighters from Penticton, Summerland and Naramata remain on scene with the support of a helicopter from the B.C. Wildfire Service.

UPDATE 10:25 a.m.

The B.C. Wildfire Service is now on scene with air support, dropping water on the grassy area below Westwood Drive where the fire started.

Crews have started to gain an upper hand on the original fire, but are dealing with a pair of spot fires on the roofs of nearby homes. The City of Penticton has confirmed that at least two homes have been impacted by the fire.

Castanet spoke to a resident of Sandstone Dr. who is not being allowed to return to his home, due to the active water drops from the B.C. Wildfire Service.

“Very anxious, very worried,” said Giorgio Chiacig, “they said I can’t go back to the house because of water bombers coming in and it's a safety hazard.”

UPDATE 10:05 a.m.

Fire officials have been unable to comment so far, but an RCMP officer working a roadblock says fire crews have started to “get a good handle on the fire.”

He noted the fire has spread since it started, but that they have a request into forestry crews for water bombers, which are on the way.

The fire is burning near Westwood Drive, which is under a tactical evacuation. Sandstone Drive has been placed on evacuation alert. Penticton city manager Peter Weeber confirmed there have been tactical evacuations and will provide more information when available.

Additional resources have also been called in from the Naramata and Summerland Fire Departments as well

UPDATE 9:50 a.m.

Penticton RCMP is telling residents in the surrounding neighbourhood they should be ready to evacuate. People are being moved away from the fire zone, with officers stating “it’s not contained.”

Our reporter at the scene says some residents are fleeing the area with horses.

ORIGINAL 9:30 a.m.

Castanet is receiving reports of a wildfire on Westwood Drive, in the West Bench area, just outside Penticton.

The Penticton Fire Department has responded, and put out a request to forestry for a helicopter.

A reporter is en route to the scene.

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