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Fire crews protect Shrike subdivision as Nk'Mip fire conditions prove challenging

'Life and death' at wildfire

Contributed

UPDATE: 4:15 p.m.

A new fire camp has been set up at Desert Park Equine Centre in Osoyoos for crews battling the forest fires in the region, including the Nk'Mip Creek wildfire which has put over 800 properties in the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen and Regional District of Kootenay Boundary under evacuation order.

The tents are being set up to house more than 150 firefighters from around Canada and as far as Mexico.

"We understand that they may be here for three to four weeks, and we're very happy to help them," said Osoyoos Mayor Sue McKortoff.

"Thank you very much to all of them, and we look forward to continuing to have updates on this as the time goes by."

Fire suppression efforts continue in the South Okanagan on two major fires, the Nk'Mip fire near Oliver and the Thomas Creek wildfire that sparked near Okanagan Falls.

The message from wildfire officials continues to be that they ask residents and visitors to stay well clear of evacuated area, and also to stay off local lakes.

"These are very. very volatile and dangerous conditions, and they're not going to let up any time soon. So when you're wondering what you should do, if you're thinking it's the wrong thing, it's probably the wrong thing,"

"If you have a drone please keep it out of our areas. This is life and death situations for first responders. in the public, generally we have magnificent cooperation, but we can't do this alone, and we can't do it without you but these are the things we need you to focus on. Please respect those closures. Please stay back when our aircraft are in the area, if you can avoid these situations, please do. We always try to work hard to get life back to normal as soon as we can as early as we can, but unfortunately the weather and the conditions is not going to let us do that for now."

Find a full list of evacuated properties in the RDOS here.


UPDATE 2:30 p.m.

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen has lifted evacuation orders for 23 addresses near the Nk’Mip Creek wildfire, replacing them with alerts.

The addresses on Black Sage Road, Saddle Ridge Road and Burrowing Owl Place can be viewed here.

Property owners are advised that conditions can change and orders could be reinstated with limited notice.


UPDATE: 1:55 p.m.

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen along with other local officials and BC Wildfire Service will be providing an update on the wildfire situation in the region at 2 p.m.

Watch live above.


Madison Erhardt

UPDATE: 1:25 p.m.

Osoyoos Indian Band chief operating officer Mike Campol said things are looking a little bit up for band members impacted by the Nk'Mip Creek wildfire, but the situation is still volatile and they are not out of the woods.

"Things are looking a little bit better today. I won't get into specifics, but some of the evacuation orders on the reserve are being rescinded and alerts are being issued for those areas. And so, things are looking a little better to them," Campol said.

The wildfire sparked one week ago Monday, a long haul for the residents under order or alert.

"Certainly the winds have not worked in our favour, mostly in the evenings and overnight, it's presented some challenges for the firefighters. It's been challenging for the entire community they were taken out of their homes, late into the evening and took whatever they could bring with them within a few minutes notice," Campol said.

"But in times like this is when community comes together, not just the community but our neighbours. The Penticton Indian Band, the Town of Oliver, the Town of Osoyoos have stepped up, just to help make that transition a little smoother, getting supplies together we needed to make people comfortable so it's an encouraging time when you see people coming together like that to help."

On Sunday, roughly 100 firefighters from Mexico arrived to help fight the fire, a welcome sight according to Campol.

"It was just an amazing sight to see. We appreciate that help we appreciate the support. I know the firefighters here appreciate that support, and I'm sure they'll be kept busy for the coming days, but it was quite an amazing thing," Campol said.

The band has been overwhelmed with support.

"Everyone came together to make sure those that were vulnerable were okay and being looked after. Community volunteers and just regular residents from the Towns of Oliver and Osoyoos, just a huge thank you we saw situations yesterday when we put out a call to action where little kids were donating $1 and $2," Campol said.

"We saw elderly people show up at the band office with groceries, and we saw community volunteers show up with truckloads of essential needs for people that have been evacuated so just a huge, huge thank you. We'll keep messaging if we if we need more assistance but it's just been amazing. We couldn't be more thankful."


UPDATE: 1 p.m.

Osoyoos Indian Band COO is sharing live with Castanet's Madison Erhardt the latest from the scene.


Madison Erhardt

UPDATE: 11:25 a.m.

Castanet's Madison Erhardt is on scene near Oliver for a live look at the Nk'Mip Creek wildfire area.


UPDATE: 10:55 a.m.

BC Wildfire Service is unable to provide a size estimate update for the Nk'Mip Creek wildfire due to rapidly changing fire behaviour and smoke conditions.

It is still estimated at 6,800 hectares officially, but is likely larger, and still classified as out of control.

The Shrike Hill subdivision southeast of Oliver remains the focus of efforts, with fire crews using heavy equipment and personnel overnight to protect structures. A trailer and a home have been lost to the fire in that area.

Crews are mopping up and continuing to FireSmart structures by removing available fuels from within home ignition zones. Patrol work will continue along/near Nk'Mip Rd area for hot spots.

The Oliver Fire Department, which has been helping BC Wildfire Service with the fight, called the fire "aggressive and unpredictable" in a social media post Monday morning.

Crews will be looking for burn off operation opportunities to reinforce existing guards and protect structures.

Structure protection is also still underway in the Anarchist Mountain community.

In Osoyoos in the Spirit Ridge area at the southern flank of the fire, crews are mopping up and patrolling.

Heavy equipment is progressing with guard assessment and construction near Shrike. A line locator will prepare for building a new machine guard on the fire's east flank in the Mt Baldy and Sidley Meadow areas, aiming to connect with the ongoing construction of the southern machine guard.

Fire behaviour continues to be aggressive and challenging as conditions remain hot and dry. There is no rain in the immediate forecast.

A total of 568 properties remain under evacuation order due to the Nk'Mip fire, and over 100 more in the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen, Town of Osoyoos, Osoyoos Indian Band and Town of Oliver remain on alert.

Find a list of evacuation orders and alerts here.


ORIGINAL: 6:25 a.m.

Fire behaviour continues to be aggressive and challenging as conditions remain hot and dry at the Nk'Mip Creek wildfire near Oliver.

In a Sunday night update, the BC Wildfire Service says firefighters worked overnight to protect structures in and near the Shrike subdivision.

One hundred firefighters arrived from Mexico over the weekend, and their first day on the fire line will be today.

On Sunday, Division A continued structure protection in the north, near Shrike and along Camp McKinney Road.

Patrol work will continue in the Nk'Mip Road area for hot spots. Crews will be looking for burn-off operation opportunities to reinforce existing guards and protect structures.

Division Z is continuing structure protection near the Anarchist Mountain community. Crews will also mop up and patrol around Spirit Ridge on the fire's southern perimeter.

Heavy equipment is working to create a cat guard around a small excursion near Shrike. Machine guard construction will progress from Shrike eastward. A line locator will prepare for building a new machine guard on the fire's east flank, aiming to connect with the ongoing construction of the southern machine guard.

The fire continues to burn out of control and is estimated to have burned 6,800 hectares.

Evacuation orders and alerts remain in place.



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