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Kamloops  

Evacuation alert issued

UPDATE: 8:40 p.m.

An evacuation alert for select residents along East Shuswap Road due to strong winds causing an escape on the south east side of the fire.

"This evacuation alert is not connected to the burning operations that were conducted earlier by the BC Wildfire Service," BC Wildfire said in a tweet. 

"With the winds picking up it clearly seems to be getting worse. Two of the helicopters are still flying around. They haven't used the bombers as of yet," said Resident Paul Stewart. 


UPDATE 8:10 p.m.

BC Wildfire crews continue to tackle a 500 hectare wildfire burning east of Kamloops. 

Response personnel are preparing for increased fire activity as strong winds are forecast through the majority of the evening. 

Crews are working on the west, east and south flanks to increase containment.

The top of the fire on north side is fully machine guarded. 

A total of four helicopters, three heavy equipment machines and 103 ground personnel are on scene.  

Airtankers are on standby and will be deployed if deemed necessary.


UPDATE: 5:30 p.m.

Crews continue to tackle the 500 hectare wildfire burning east of Kamloops

"The burn operation on the East Shuswap Road wildfire is underway, using hand ignition from firefighters on the ground," BC Wildfire said in a tweet.

The public is reminded that smoke and flames may be visible from surrounding areas.


UPDATE: 3:42 p.m.

The BC Wildfire Service continues to keep a watchful eye on the weather as more than 100 firefighters, four helicopters and heavy equipment tackle a roughly 500 hectare grass fire burning east of Kamloops. 

The official status of the fire is "out of control" but BC Wildfire Service states on its website that crews have made good progress ahead of heavy winds expected later this afternoon. 

"Strong winds are forecast for later this afternoon and response personnel are preparing for increased fire activity," was stated.

"Today, crews are working on the west, east and south flanks to increase containment. The top of the fire (north side) is fully machine guarded." 

The response to the fire is garnering praise from local area politicians. Both Kamloops BC Liberal MLAs Todd Stone and Peter Milobar congratulated fire crews on their successful efforts to suppress the fire yesterday.

“With significant wind gusts, the fire spread incredibly fast and very quickly became a major threat,” said Milobar. "Were it not for the quick actions of firefighters, homes may have been lost."

Six homes were evacuated Thursday, and several more were put on an evacuation notice. Those residents have since been allowed to return home. 

"After the devastating wildfires of last year, we need to be sure that we do all we can to mitigate the risks," said Stone. "We need to be aware of our surroundings and our actions so that we do not inadvertently add to tragedy.”

The cause of the fire is still unclear, but it is believed to be human-caused. 

The East Shuswap Road fire was sparked at roughly noon on Thursday and is approximately 500 hectares in size.


UPDATE: 1:28 p.m.

A special weather statement remains in effect for the region.

Environment Canada meteorologist Lisa Erven said wind gusts of up to 70 km/h are expected this evening.

Erven said the wind will start picking up this afternoon with gusts of 30-50 km/h, but around 8 p.m. conditions will get even worse with more powerful winds sweeping the B.C. Interior as a cold front works its way through the region.

And those winds could wreak havoc on the fire burning near Kamloops.

However, Kamloops Fire Centre Fire Information Officer Marla Catherall said crews are aware of the impending wind storm and are preparing for an increase in fire activity.


UPDATE: 12:16 p.m.

Kamloops Fire Centre Fire Information Officer Marla Catherall said a guard has been built between the flames and the Paul Lake area.

“The north side is fully machine guarded,” said Catherall, explaining machines have gone through and removed ground fuels.

“Today crews are working on the west, east and south flanks to increase containment.”

Catherall did not know how much of the fire has been contained, but said crews are making good progress.

Catherall said the area is made up mostly of grass and sage.

“It burns really hot, but it also burns out really quickly too,” she said.

One of the challenges facing fire crews is the winds that whips through the valley.

High winds are expected later today, but Catherall said crews are prepared for an increase in fire activity.

Currently, the fire rating is moderate to low in the Kamloops region, but Catherall said that could change.


UPDATE: 11:26 a.m.

BC Wildfire officials said they have made good progress on the wildfire near Kamloops.

In a tweet, officials said 103 personnel along with heavy equipment and four helicopters are battling the blaze.

Airtankers are also available should they be needed.

Officials are concerned about predicted strong winds this afternoon.

The fire is currently estimated to be 500 ha. Yesterday it was estimated at 380 ha, but more accurate mapping has shown the fire is larger than first thought.


ORIGINAL

Crews continue to battle a wildfire near Kamloops.

Mapped out at 500 hectares, the fire had little growth overnight, but there are concerns high winds this afternoon will fan the flames and the fire could take off.

As of Friday morning, the fire was moving away from nearby homes and heading in a north-east direction toward the Paul Lake area.

Crews continue to battle the blaze from the ground and the air.

Castanet will have an update on the fire as soon as it becomes available.



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