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Penticton  

Wildfire near Okanagan Falls now at 500 hectares; evacuations ordered by regional district

State of local emergency

UPDATE: 10:05 p.m.

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen has postponed the media briefing to Monday due to technical difficulties.

At this time It's unclear what time the briefing will take place.

Castanet continues to be in communication with the RDOS and will have more information as it becomes available.


UPDATE: 10 p.m.

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen tells Castanet they are having technical difficulties, but the live media briefing will still be taking place shortly.


UPDATE: 9:35 p.m.

Watch a live briefing from the RDOS Emergency Operations Centre regarding the Thomas Creek wildfire above, expected to begin at around 9:45 p.m.


UPDATE: 9 p.m.

The RDOS has issued a local state of emergency for Electoral Area D.

"The State of Local Emergency commences immediately on July 11, to remain in force for seven days until date July 17, 2021 at midnight unless revoked by order of Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen or the Minister responsible," the RDOS said in a statement.

77 properties remain under evacuation order and 600 on evacuation alert.

The RDOS is reminding boaters on Skaha Lake to stay out of the area to allow skimmers to conduct operations.

Castanet will carry the RDOS media briefing live at 9:30 p.m.


UPDATE: 8:34 p.m.

The Thomas Creek wildfire just outside Okanagan Falls is now at 500 hectares, BC Wildfire Service reports.

77 properties are under evacuation order and 600 on evacuation alert.

Eight BC Wildfire firefighters and two helicopters, along with multiple pieces of heavy equipment, are responding, alongside local fire departments.

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen is expected to hold a media briefing at 9:30 p.m. Castanet will carry that live.


UPDATE: 7:40 p.m.

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen's Emergency Operations Centre has ordered the evacuation of 77 properties east of Okanagan Falls as the Thomas Creek wildfire rages out of control, and a further 600 properties are on evacuation alert.

The announcement was sent to media at 7:35 p.m. Sunday night. The reason for evacuation is cited as "immediate danger to life safety."

The properties ordered to evacuate are on Allendale Lake Road, Chapman Road, McLean Creek Road, Eastside Road, and Harkin Creek Road. Find the full list here.

All evacuees are asked to register online with the Emergency Support Services (ESS) Evacuee Registration & Assistance (ERA) tool even if you do not require referrals such as housing or other services: ess.gov.bc.ca

Due to a shortage of hotel accommodations, the RDOS asks evacuees to make arrangements to stay with family or friends if possible.

If you require services, please visit the ESS Reception Centre at 199 Ellis Street, Penticton. For ESS information, please call: 250-486-1890.

If you have pets or livestock that need to be cared for and billeted, please contact Animal Lifeline Emergency Response Team (ALERT) for support: 250-809-7152.

A further 600 properties are on evacuation alert. Information on those properties can be found here.

An interactive map showing properties on alert and order can be found here.


UPDATE: 7:15 p.m.

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen is expected to make a statement around 8 p.m. as to whether or not evacuation alerts or orders will be issued in the Thomas Creek Wildfire area east of Okanagan Falls.

The fire is at 100 hectares as of last estimate by BC Wildfire and large plumes of smoke remain highly visible from nearby communities.

Castanet will share any RDOS updates immediately.


UPDATE: 6:50 p.m.

According to BC Wildfire, the Thomas Creek Wildfire remains at 100 hectares in size.

"We have eight personnel on the ground responding and they are being supported by four helicopters as well as air support and heavy equipment," said fire information officer Aydan Coray

The fire remains out of control and the cause is unknown at this time.


UPDATE: 5:40 p.m.

According to BC Wildfire, the Thomas Creek Wildfire is estimated at 100 hectares in size.

The fire is approximately 1.5 kilometres from Skaha Lake in the McLean Creek Road area.

BC Wildfire continues to investigate what sparked the fire.

The smoke appears to be blowing up the mountain at this time.

Contributed

UPDATE: 4 :15 p.m.

Casey Richardson

Castanet reporter Casey is live on scene with a look at the out of control Thomas Creek wildfire.

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen has activated its Emergency Operations Centre in response to the fire.

BC Wildfire does not have any word yet on possible cause. The fire is approximately 1.5 kilometres from Skaha Lake in the McLean Creek Road area.

The latest BC Wildfire update has the blaze, which started shortly before 2 p.m. Sunday, estimated at 20 hectare in size.

Smoke continues to be highly visible in surrounding communities.


UPDATE: 3:50 p.m.

BC Wildfire Service reports that the fire near Okanagan Falls, now officially called the "Thomas Creek wildfire," is at 20 hectares in size and listed as out of control.

Multiple air tankers and two helicopters are responding, as well as seven BC Wildfire personnel on the ground.

Reports from witnesses who spotted the blaze this afternoon indicate it spread quickly.

"It was just like a little white cloud, and we were like, oh that looks like a fire over there, and then within 10 minutes it just took off," Nada Heuring said, who was at a beach on the west side of Skaha Lake this afternoon.

"It picked up really quick and all of the sudden there was smoke, and some black smoke."

Shelly Gittel also saw the plume grow from her vantage point at the south end of Skaha Lake on the beach in Okanagan Falls.

"We saw the plume, and it started getting bigger. You can't not notice it, it was getting bigger and there was also buckets coming into the lake in a continuous cycle," Gittel said.

She said the beach has become a spot for people to watch the fire, just over the hill from town, but she does not feel threatened at this time by the blaze.

Castanet reporter Casey Richardson is on scene, and will be providing a live look at the fire shortly.


UPDATE: 2:45 p.m.

Air tankers are leaving Penticton airport headed towards Okanagan Falls, and multiple helicopters were spotted heading south from Kelowna as well.

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen Emergency Operations Centre said on Twitter that they are "monitoring" the new wildfire near McLean Creek Road.

Smoke is highly visible from surrounding communities.

Castanet is awaiting an update with more information from BC Wildfire Service. Their website has the fire listed at 0.5 hectares.

Castanet reporter Casey Richardson is heading to the scene.


ORIGINAL: 2:20 p.m.

A new wildfire is burning east of Okanagan Falls Sunday afternoon.

Fire information officer Taylor MacDonald says the BC Wildfire Service is aware of the new fire start, and air support is en route to the fire.

MacDonald could not say whether the air support includes helicopters or fixed-wing aircraft and she could not say if ground crews are also heading to the fire.

A large plume of smoke to the east of Skaha Lake is very visible to those in Penticton and the surrounding areas.

Castanet will have more information as it becomes available.



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