Fire crews making 'good progress' at the Keremeos Creek wildfire

'Good progress' on wildfire

UPDATE: 5 p.m.

Warmer temperatures on Saturday compared to the last few days have increased fire activity for the Keremeos Creek Wildfire.

BC Wildfire Service Fire Information Officer Mikhail Elsay said that the increase was expected and crews are prepared for it.

"Crews are making good progress above Ollala putting in hand guards, so they're doing a good job of creating containment lines," he said.

"Crews in the northern section were also working hard establishing containments north of Sheep Creek Road."

The 426 firefighters stationed at the fire are on rotating shifts, with the majority firefighting during the day.

Highway 3A is expected to remain closed for the foreseeable future. Elsay said that there is still quite an active fire in some of the areas so it will remain closed for responder safety and public safety.

The fire remains estimated at 5903 hectares in size, with BCWS constantly mapping the fire as it changes and grows.

"Crews are doing good work out there. We'll be continuing to work the fire through the 24-hour cycles for the foreseeable future," Elsay added.

Over 540 properties in rural Keremeos, the Apex area and Olalla remain on evacuation order, with a further 1,050 properties in the area under alert.

An interactive map of all properties on order and alert can be found online here.

UPDATE: 9:33 a.m.

BC Wildfire Service said that crews were challenged overnight on Friday while battling the Keremeos Creek Wildfire.

The south flank, north of Ollala had some spotting and flare-ups.

"They were able to action it and then conduct some hand ignitions to solidify their lines and stalled the fire at the rock bluff north of the village. There has been no fire damage on structures through the overnight period," BCWS said in their Saturday morning update.

"On the northeast flank, crews were challenged by winds in the area and are working on building contingency lines."

The fire is currently estimated at 5903 hectares in size.

Along with 15 helicopters and 40 pieces of heavy equipment, there are 260 wildland firefighters assigned to this fire working with an additional 166 structural protection personnel from fire departments across BC for a total crew complement of 426 firefighters.

BCWS said they expect a strong upper ridge will lie over the area on Saturday.

Plans for Saturday on the eastern flank are to build fuel-free lines from Green Mountain Road towards the McKay Creek staging area. Sprinklers will be installed behind properties on Green Mountain Road.

Crews will be constructing lines around Hedges Butte towards McKay Creek as well as building fuel-free and hand guards from McKay Creek towards Green Mountain Road.

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

In preparation for planned ignition, crews will continue to establish hand lines along Olalla Creek Forest Service Road.

Crews have been assigned to hold the fire to the north of the Highway 3 corridor.

Highway 3A remains closed at this time between the Highway 97 junction in Kaleden and Keremeos.

Click here for an interactive map of all properties on order and alert.

ORIGINAL: 4 a.m.

There are 166 structural protection personnel from fire departments across BC responding to the Keremeos Creek Wildfire on Friday, as over 540 properties in rural Keremeos, the Apex area and Olalla remain on evacuation order.

A further 1,050 properties in the area are under alert.

An update on Friday afternoon listed the fire at nearly 6,000 hectares and had closed down Highway 3A.

BC Wildfire Service sent out a post on Friday night specifically to thank the Structure Protection Branch, which has "played an integral role in the defence of proprieties in close proximity to the wildfire."

Assisting the fire crews in their work are 21 fire engines, 15 water tenders and one mechanic.

These teams are a build-up of over 35 fire departments, according to BCWS, as well as many single resources who have provided aid in responding to this wildfire.

"The BC Wildfire Service recognizes and appreciates the long-standing cooperative relationship with the structural firefighting community," they wrote.

The wildfire sparked Friday, July 29 and has so far resulted in the loss of one home.

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