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Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen issues evacuation order, alert for some properties due to Nk'Mip wildfire

Evac order for Nk'Mip fire

Contributed

UPDATE: 8:02 p.m.

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen has issued an evacuation order and an evacuation alert for several properties northeast of Osoyoos Lake due to the Nk’Mip wildfire.

A full list and map of the properties affected by the evacuation alert and order is available on the RDOS website.

For properties put under evacuation order, the RDOS said search and rescue teams and the RCMP will be notifying residents.

“Please reach out to friends and neighbours of the community to advise of the evacuation order,” the RDOS said in a statement.

For those under alert, the RDOS said residents should prepare to leave the area if an order is issued.

“BC Wildfire Service, the RDOS and the Town of Osoyoos are actively assessing the situation and should conditions deteriorate, evacuation orders may be issued,” the RDOS said.

“As much advance notice as possible will be provided prior to an evacuation order, however you may receive limited notice due to changing conditions.”


UPDATE: 6:50 p.m.

The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary has declared a state of local emergency in one of their electoral areas due to the Nk’Mip Creek wildfire’s eastward advance.

In a statement, the RDKB said the state of local emergency was declared for Electoral Area E and West Boundary, with residents at 122 properties ordered to evacuate.

Another 304 properties have been placed on evacuation alert, according to the RDKB.

A full list and map of properties affected by evacuation orders and alerts can be found on the RDKB website.

“Anyone ordered to evacuate should gather only essential belongings and exit along Highway 3 towards the city of Grand Forks where an evacuation centre is now being set up,” the RDKB said in a statement.

All evacuees from the area are asked to register online or in-person at the Jack Goddard Memorial Arena in Grand Forks.

Mark Stephens, the Emergency Operations Centre director for the district, said they issued the orders and alerts due to information received from the BC Wildfire Service.

“BC Wildfire has informed us of the potential for a change in the prevailing winds that could push the wildfire to burn more in a southeasterly direction into dry fuels,” Stephens said.

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen has also declared a state of local emergency for Electoral Areas C and A.

Oliver and Osoyoos are also in a state of local emergency.

The size of the Nk’Mip fire is estimated at 2,000 hectares in size, according to the BC Wildfire Service.


Contributed

UPDATE: 5:25 p.m.

The Oliver Fire Department stepped in to help battle the extremely aggressive wildfire coming into Osoyoos that broke out on Monday afternoon, which is now estimated at 2,000 hectares, according to an update from BC Wildfire Service.

"Right now most of our crews are wrapping up any structural protection we’ve been providing on the Osoyoos side of things and heading back to base," Oliver Fire Department spokesperson Rob Graham said.

He added that overnight with the wind pushing from the North more towards Osoyoos it was 'tense times with getting people evacuated from Spirit Ridge and the Nk'Mip campground.'

The fire has moved down east and south, entering further into Osoyoos Indian Band land.

"We’ll be on standby should Osoyoos or Anarchist, if it moves that way, needs any support."

While no residences has been reported lost to the fire so far, some individuals have lost an RV, boats and homemade container home.

“That was in an area that was dangerous to our guys going in initially. We weren’t able to respond [because] we had homes that were initially threatened by the time we were first on scene, we just couldn’t pull resources from that to send to every location."

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen has provided Emergency Support Services to approximately 350 individuals to date due to the Nk'Mip Creek Wildfire.

A state of local emergency is in place in Area C and Area A of the RDOS, as well as Oliver and Osoyoos.

Twelve BCWS personnel along with two helicopters are responding to the wildfire. Air tankers completed retardant drops on the west flank of the fire closest to homes on Monday.

Firefighters are continuing work on the southwest flank of the fire in conjunction with heavy equipment, and the northwest flank with support from air tankers.

The resort community of Casa del Logo in Osoyoos has been added to properties on evacuation in the town, located at 7600 and 7800 Cottonwood Drive.

So far there are no properties in town on evacuation order. Over 200 properties nearby on Osoyoos Indian Band Land and RDOS land remain under order.


UPDATE: 4:30 p.m.

The resort community of Casa del Logo in Osoyoos has been added to properties on evacuation in the town, located at 7600 and 7800 Cottonwood Drive.

So far there are no properties in town on evacuation order. Over 200 properties nearby on Osoyoos Indian Band Land and RDOS land remain under order.


UPDATE: 2:50 p.m.

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen has provided Emergency Support Services to approximately 350 individuals to date due to the Nk'Mip Creek Wildfire.

A reception centre has been set up in Oliver at the Legion. Registration can also be done online here.

Anyone who is under evacuation order is eligible and will be provided with a place to stay, providing they are a full-time resident. Anyone who is a guest is being asked by the various impacted municipalities, the RDOS and Osoyoos Indian Band to go back to their homes.

"ESS is really intended for people who have residences in this area, it's not meant for visitors who are at a campground or anything like that. Those people are asked if they can head back their homes. It's for people who live in the area who are displaced," RDOS communications manager Erick Thompson said at a media briefing Tuesday.

Thompson also explained that RCMP and private security are actively patrolling the evacuation order zones to keep property left behind safe.

Also at the briefing were representatives from Osoyoos and Oliver, who said to their knowledge no permanent structures have been lost in their areas.

Erica Louie with the Osoyoos Indian Band said a few homes are currently in a dangerous area, and that the Oliver Fire Department was dispatched to the scene Tuesday afternoon.

Nk'Mip Creek wildfire is estimated at 2,000 hectares and out of control. A state of local emergency is in place in Area C and Area A of the RDOS, as well as Oliver and Osoyoos.


UPDATE: 2:30 p.m.

BC Wildfire spokesperson Dale Bojahra says Nk'Mip Creek is an "extremely aggressive" wildfire, using the example of its initial growth of six kilometres in just a few hours to illustrate his point.

"At this point we have a number of ground crews and heavy equipment, working on the fire. A lot of focus on the west and southwest flank, as you would imagine. That's where we have the most exposure to the community. So a lot of focused on those flanks to try to protect the homes that are nearest to the fire," Bojahra said.

The change Tuesday is the wind direction. On Monday when the wildfire began, winds were coming primarily out of the south. That is expected to change today, pushing out of the north, prompting recommendations for evacuation alerts in Osoyoos Tuesday morning.

Bojahra said BC Wildfire understands the public is anxious for updates, and they do their best to do so a few times a day.

"The crews are working out their heart and trying to do their best to provide updates as the day goes on. But we are limited in our frequency, as far as updating, you know, beyond that, two to three times a day."

He also wanted to urge respect of evacuation orders.

"We've had other of incidents of folks, when an order comes in, refusing to leave their property," Bojahra said.

"Then we have those same people feeling they need support to get out of where they've stayed. It pulls resources away from fighting the fire ... it is extraordinarily difficult for our crews to deal with when we're trying to fight fire than having to go and check on people who have refused an evacuation order."

He also said the general public should in general stay clear, as well as staying off the nearby lakes.

"Please, we're not looking for spectators," Bojahra said, explaining it can be dangerous.

"All that does is pull our resources from our job and the important work we have to do."


UPDATE: 1:55 p.m.

Watch live as representatives of the RDOS, BC Wildfire Service, Town of Oliver, Town of Osoyoos and Osoyoos Indian Band provide an update on the Nk'Mip Creek wildfire.

The briefing is expected to start shortly after 2 p.m. when all attendees arrive.


UPDATE: 1:37 p.m.

BC Wildfire Service has updated its size estimate of Nk'Mip Creek to 2,000 hectares, up from 1,100 hectares.

Twelve firefighters and two helicopters are on scene.

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen will have a live update at 2 p.m.


UPDATE: 1 p.m.

The mayor of Osoyoos is asking tourists to go home.

"We're telling people who are here, our visitors to our area to please go home, because we need to be able to deal with with our local residents who need help if they're evacuated," McKortoff said.

McKortoff said the situation has been changing rapidly.

"Everybody's working hard to try and keep abreast of this and help each other," McKortoff said.

Roughly 100 properties in Osoyoos are on evacuation alert. Dozens more are on alert in surrounding Regional District areas, and evacuation orders have been put in place for more than 200 properties.

Some of those on evacuation order are from spots popular with visitors like Nk'Mip Campground, and the fully evacuated Spirit Ridge Resort.

The RDOS will be holding a live media briefing at 2 p.m., which Castanet will carry live.


UPDATE: 12:30 p.m.

The Town of Osoyoos has placed all properties north of Highway 3 and east of Cottonwood Drive and west of 45th street on evacuation alert.

It has also closed the boat launch to any activity other than pulling boats out of the water.

What you should do if on alert:

  • Locate all family members and designate a meeting area outside the evacuation area, should an Evacuation Order be called while separated.
  • Pack essential items such as government-issued ID, medications, eyeglasses, valuable papers (e.g. insurance, credit, and mortgage information), immediate care needs for dependents and, if time and space permits, keepsakes for quick departure.
  • Prepare to move disabled persons, children and/or neighbours, if assistance is needed.
  • Prepare to take pets with you and move livestock to a safe area (if possible).
  • Arrange transportation for all your household members. Fill the gas tanks of personal vehicles.
  • Arrange accommodation for all members of the residence, if possible.
  • Wait for an Evacuation Order to be issued before evacuating.

Osoyoos residents can find more information and complete list of addresses under alert here.


UPDATE: 11:13 a.m.

Castanet has obtained some images of rural area between Oliver and Osoyoos where the Nk'Mip Creek Wildfire, formerly referred to by BC Wildfire as Inkaneep Creek, began Monday afternoon.

Sara Brown, a resident, toured the devastating scene of her friends' property after the wildfire had ravaged its way through.

Though there were no permanent structures on site, Brown said they lost an RV, two boats and a homemade container home.

They also had potbelly pigs and a rooster, but with no time to spare, all they could do is let them free as they ran from the blaze.

She said the property went up in flames around 5 p.m., which is shortly after the blaze sparked.

Nk'Mip Creek is classified as out of control and estimated at 1,100 hectares.


Casey Richardson

UPDATE: 10:50 a.m.

Castanet's Casey Richardson is live on scene at the newly-renamed Nk'Mip Creek Wildfire

BC Wildfire Service had been referring to it in all official correspondence as Inkaneep Creek Monday, but that changed on the Wildfires of Note page Tuesday morning.

The blaze stands at 1,100 hectares.


UPDATE: 9:50 a.m.

The Inkaneep Creek wildfire has jumped to 1,100 hectares, according to BC Wildfire Service Tuesday morning.

The Town of Osoyoos has joined the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen in declaring an official state of local emergency.

Its Emergency Operations Centre has been established. Residents outside of the town proper in Area A and C can find information on how to access the RDOC EOC here.

The Town is also preparing an evacuation alert for all properties north of Highway 3, east of Cottonwood Drive and West of 45th Street.

Any residents that evacuate should register with Evacuee Registration & Assistance here.

"The Town has requested additional resources to fight this out of control wildfire, including additional fire engines, water tender, and deployment of a structural protection unit, all of which are en-route," reads an update released to media Tuesday morning.

The Inkaneep fire remains classified as out of control.


UPDATE: 9 a.m.

Campers at the Nk'Mip Campground report being hurriedly evacuated in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

With no obvious place to go, many convened at the Buy-Low Foods parking lot in Osoyoos.

A raw video sent in by one of the evacuees, Heidi Steen, shows the scene. She reports some people sleeping right on the ground of the parking lot.

"It's just unreal. All these people, nowhere to go."

She says Buy-Low Foods has been amazing letting them stay and use their facilities.

Castanet will have much more throughout the day on the Inkaneep Creek wildfire, listed as out of control and the cause of evacuation alerts and orders throughout the Oliver and Osoyoos area.

Find a full list of alerts and orders here.

The Oliver Fire Department shared a video to their Facebook page on Tuesday morning to show the intensity of the fire in its early stages.

** WARNING. Video contains expletives **


ORIGINAL: 6:19 a.m.

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen has declared a state of emergency in Electoral Area C as the Inkaneep Creek wildfire continues to pose an "imminent threat to life and property."

RDOS chair Karla Kozakevich declared the state of emergency late Monday after the fire blew up six kilometres north of Osoyoos Monday afternoon, growing to an estimated 700 hectares.

The emergency state will remain in force for seven days and is in addition to a state of emergency declared by the Town of Oliver Monday evening.

The blaze grew rapidly and is still out of control.

Evacuation orders and alerts were issued late Monday by both the Osoyoos Indian Band and Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen.

Search and rescue crews were assisting RCMP in conducting tactical evacuations for those in immediate risk.

As of Monday night, 12 BC Wildfire Service personnel were fighting the fire, along with five helicopters and air tankers.

Air tankers dropped retardant on the west flank of the fire, closest to homes. Firefighters also worked the west flank, and personnel remained on site overnight.

Power was cut on the west flank, closest to homes, so crews could continue to fight the fire safely.

Photos from the area overnight show flames coming dangerously close to homes in The Cottages development, separated only by a green band of vineyards above the homes.

-with files from Jon Manchester



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