Wildfire 80% contained

UPDATE 9:15 p.m.

The B.C. Wildfire Service says a controlled burn Wednesday has resulted in 80 per cent containment around the Richter Creek wildfire 12 kilometres west of Osoyoos.

Including the terrain burned by firefighters, the blaze has now scorched 507 hectares of grass and trees off Highway 3.

“This controlled burn brought the fire down from the steep slopes to the established control line completed the day before,” BCWS said online. “As the fire is now in more workable terrain, they will continue with direct attack off the control lines.”

Four firefighters will stay on the fire overnight.

Seventy-five firefighters and four helicopters will resume the fight in the morning.

UPDATE 5:20 p.m.

The B.C. Wildfire Service says back burning operations at the Richter Creek wildfire west of Osoyoos are now underway, which will result in more smoke and fire activity.

Fire information officer Hannah Swift said exactly how long the controlled burn runs for is dependant on the weather.

“But it’s going well out there and we will have personnel on site monitoring it through the evening.”

Crews are burning about 100 hectares on the north and west flanks of the fire.

Fire officials are hopeful the back burning and significant rain in the forecast will slow the fire’s advance.

Showers are expected to roll over the region tonight, with 10-15 millimetres expected to fall on Thursday and another 10 millimetres on Friday.

Rain “definitely wouldn’t hurt, it would be helpful,” Swift said.

There is, however, a risk of thunderstorms late afternoon Thursday.

The Richter Creek fire is still pegged at 400 hectares. There are 75 firefighters and four helicopters assigned to the blaze, with more resources on the way.

UPDATE: 4:10 p.m.

Ignitions have begun at the Richter Creek wildfire site, later than expected. 

The current fire activity has led fire crews to aim for 100 hectares of burn area rather than the previously planned 160. Smoke should be expected to be visible from nearby communities.

Aircraft with flame retardant are on site for support. 

ORIGINAL: 10 a.m.

The Richter Creek fire 12 kilometres outside Osoyoos is still listed as "out of control" on the B.C. Wildfire Service website, and crews will be administering planned burns this morning and afternoon to try to keep it contained. 

A total of 62 wildfire fighters are expected on scene by noon, joining two pieces of heavy equipment that arrived overnight to work on building a guard. 

The fire is still listed at 400 hectares and as being caused by a vehicle fire, but B.C. Wildfire Service communications officer Nicole Bonnett said that is expected to jump today, mostly due to the ignition burns. 

"It will be approximately 160 hectares that they are looking to burn on mostly the west and north flanks of the area," Bonnett said. 

She added that people in the area can expect to see much more smoke in the area as those burns take place in the late morning and early afternoon. 

They also have an "incident management team" comprised of B.C. Wildfire members from other fire zones around the province which will be taking over the management of the fire, to free up the local Penticton zone to deal with any other potential fires that flare up in the coming days. 

"They come in and take over a wildfire, multiple fires," Bonnett said. "We're moving into  a long weekend here."

The planned ignition burns will go forward only if weather permits. 

"If it's going to be really windy, if our conditions are not going to be met, like relative humidity, that sort of thing, then obviously we can't go ahead," Bonnett said.

"In this case we're looking to do an understory burn, but there's every chance you'll get the occasional tree that you'll get the candling. But the intent is just to try and burn out some of those fuels to stop any potential spread, because where it's currently burning it's not ideal for our crews."

The ignitions will be partly done by hand on the ground and partly from above. 

"And we have helicopters that will be out there and will be available for bucket support, and the air tankers will be out there with retardant to help bolster the existing guards," Bonnett said. 

Another fire in the South Okanagan sparked yesterday near Apex, known now officially as Shatford Creek, is doing well. 

"The fire is now under control. Next to zero fire activity," she said. "We won't have crews out there today."

That fire is anticipated to have been human caused. 

"If it's not a lightning-caused fire it will be determined to have been human caused, but that could mean a multitude of things," Bonnett said. 

Castanet will have updates throughout the day on the Richter Creek fire. 14 properties are currently under evacuation alert in the area. 

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