Air support hitting wildfire burning above Highway 97C west of Peachland

Wildfire now at 33 hectares

Rob Gibson

UPDATE 8:50 p.m.

The BC Wildfire Service says the Pigeon Creek wildfire burning just west of Peachland has now grown in size to 33 hectares.

That's a slight growth from the previous mapping of 30 hectares late Monday afternoon, and comes as pictures of the fire show a decrease in smoke and fire activity.

Fire information officer Aydan Corey says the skimmers working the fire much of the day have returned to base for the evening, but are expected to return in the morning.

A handful of ground crew will monitor the fire overnight.

Forty-four ground crew firefighters worked the fire during the day Monday.

The fire was spotted about 7 p.m. Sunday. Cause has not been determined, however there has not been any lightning in the area over the previous days.

The fire danger rating across the Okanagan remains high to extreme.

The forecast for the region calls for sunshine and highs to reach to mid 30's by Thursday before things cool down with rain expected Thursday evening, and lasting through much of the weekend.

UPDATE 5:50 p.m.

The Wildfire burning west of Peachland has nearly quadrupled in size.

According to fire information officer Aydan Corey, the fire now sits at 30 hectares in size.

"The more accurate mapping is due to better visibility than earlier this afternoon, as well high tanker traffic limited our opportunities to get an accurate track," Corey told Castanet News late this afternoon.

The BC Wildfire Service still has 44 ground personnel on the fire with a team of six skimmers fighting it from the air.

The skimmers are using Okanagan Lake as a water source and Corey reminds boaters to stay away from areas where the planes are working.

The fire was discovered about 7 p.m. Sunday evening.

It is facing Highway 97C just past the Trepanier turnoff but is not impacting vehicle traffic.

UPDATE 5:30 p.m.

After significant growth this morning, a sustained aerial attack on the Pigeon Creek wildfire west of Peachland throughout the day appears to have somewhat slowed the growth of the fire this afternoon.

Aircraft from the BC Wildfire Service have been over the fire all day and remain in the air. A skimmer group from Kamloops and tanker team from Penticton were joined by helicopters bucketing the blaze.

Recent photos of the fire show it now burning closer to the top of Lookout Mountain. The flank facing Highway 97C is less active than earlier in the day. Crews are focused on the east and west flanks of the fire.

The fire was last estimated at eight hectares in size and 44 crew members remain assigned to the incident.

UPDATE 4:15 p.m.

The BC Wildfire Service has now added more ground personnel to fight the Pigeon Creek wildfire.

The blaze is still estimated to be eight hectares in size.

BCWS spokesperson Melanie Bibeau said in addition to 44 ground crew members, they have eight to 10 aircraft hitting the fire.

Ground crews haven't established a series of objectives for the wildfire yet, but they are working to implement fuel-free guard and hoselay along the east and west flanks.

The wildfire is burning in steep terrain, and being influenced by gusting winds.

UPDATE 2:45 p.m.

The BC Wildfire Service is now estimating the Pigeon Creek wildfire at eight hectares in size.

More ground crews are on the way to the fire while air support continues to hit the blaze from the sky.

"There are currently one initial attack and two unit crews responding to this wildfire, for a total of 44 personnel assigned," said BCWS online.

UPDATE 12:20 p.m.

Major air support continues to hit the Pigeon Creek wildfire west of Peachland.

A helicopter is now bucketing the fire, joining a full skimmer team from Kamloops and tanker aircraft that are taking laps of the fire from their base in Penticton.

The cause of the fire is now listed as under investigation.

While the fire is very visible from Highway 97C, it is not impacting motorists.

The BC Wildfire Service says the blaze is not threatening homes.

UPDATE 11:05 a.m.

BC Wildfire Service aircraft are now hitting a fire burning west of Peachland.

A skimmer team from Kamloops and tankers from Penticton have been over the fire this morning.

The BC Wildfire Service says the blaze, which they have named the Pigeon Creek wildfire, is now estimated at five hectares in size.

It is burning in steep terrain and is “influenced by gusting winds.”

A BC Wildfire spokesperson says they are using significant air support because of how difficult it is to reach the fire on foot. There are eight ground crew members at the scene.

“This wildfire and aerial response will be highly visible to travellers along Highway 97C," BCWS said online.

UPDATE 10:30 a.m.

A small wildfire burning above the Okanagan Connector west of Peachland is burning more vigorously.

Nearby residents say the fire has grown this morning as winds increased.

The BC Wildfire Service now says its next update should be ready at around 11 a.m.

Castanet has a reporter headed to the area today.

UPDATE: 8:39 a.m.

BC Wildfire crews are on the scene of a small wildfire burning off the Okanagan Connector at Pigeon Creek, west of Peachland Monday morning.

BC Wildfire spokesperson Aydan Coray tells Castanet there are eight firefighting personnel working the blaze and they are being supported by one water tender.

"The fire at last check last night was .15 hectares after more accurate mapping," she said.

Coray says she hopes to have a better idea of the fire behaviour by 10 a.m. No structures are at risk.

The fire is located 6.5 kilometres west of Peachland, and is "highly visible from Highway 97C."

ORIGINAL 7:35 a.m.

A small wildfire off the Okanagan Connector continues to burn this morning at Pigeon Creek, west of Peachland.

Residents say they can see trees burning this morning south of the Paradise Valley U-turn on Highway 97C.

As of Sunday night, the BC Wildfire Service said the fire had burned approximately 0.2 hectares.

A four-man crew was expected to join initial firefighters on site overnight.

No structures are at risk.

The fire is located 6.5 kilometres west of Peachland, and "highly visible from Highway 97C," BCWS said.

It is burning on the slopes of Lookout Mountain, south of Highway 97C and directly across from the Upper Trepanier neighbourhood.

Further updates are expected later this morning.

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