Nk'Mip Creek wildfire grows north, shows 'aggressive' behaviour

100 more firefighters on way

Casey Richardson

UPDATE 9:41 p.m.

The Oliver Fire Department has stated that a burn will be conducted by BCWFS to eliminate fuels in rough terrains.

Smoke and flames may be visible from the north end of McKinney Road on Friday night because of the burn, and fire crews will monitor the situation throughout the evening.

The fire burning 6 kilometres north of Osoyoos is still classified as out of control, and is approximately 6,800 hectares in size.

UPDATE: 3:35 p.m.

Castanet's Casey Richardson is live on scene for another look at the Nk'Mip Creek wildfire near Oliver.


UPDATE: 3:15 p.m.

RDOS board chair Karla Kozakevich provided an update to Castanet on rumours circulating on social media that Area 27 racetrack in the area of the Nk'Mip Creek wildfire was burned.

She said the fire was very close late last night and into the early hours of area 27, but it didn’t not burn or damage the track.

No structures were damaged, but some fence posts and grass at the permitter has been burned. Photos on social media made it appear that the track was affected, but it was not.

Kozakevich also reminds the community members who are under evacuation order and alert to stay vigilant even if it appears the fire has moved away.

Those under order must leave right away.

"It’s putting firefights at risk if they have to go back in and get them," she said.

UPDATE: 2:20 p.m.

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen has confirmed one home and one trailer have been lost to the Nk'Mip Creek wildfire in the Shrike Hill area near Oliver.

Structures and power infrastructure in the region remain threatened, and there is talk of evacuation alerts in the Highway 3 area, which for now remains open.

BC Wildfire information officer Dani McIntosh said Friday afternoon that wind and hot temperatures have been the major issue for gaining control of the 6,800 hectare blaze.

"Weather conditions are anticipated to stay the same over the next few days, there's been a trend for winds coming out of the north and northeast in the morning at about 15 kilometres per hour," McIntosh said.

"And we're seeing those winds change in the afternoons, gusting up to 25 to 30 kilometres an hour in the afternoon around 4 p.m. every day. That combined with the hot temperatures is causing the fire to become quite active later in the day."

McIntosh said 80 personnel are on the fire today, four helicopters and 12 pieces of heavy machinery, and they are anticipating the arrival of a crew of 100 or so firefighters from Mexico on July 25. They arrived in Canada Friday.

She said they are working closely with the Ministry of Transportation regarding Highway 3.

"There's no plans currently to have a highway closure, our operations section chief has identified triggers that wold initiate the closure of the highway," McIntosh explained.

They are also working closely with Fortis BC.

"They have two crews on site monitoring their main line that serves power to Osoyoos and Oliver," she said. "They're doing everything that they can with structural protection to make sure that line isn't compromised. There has been some damage to power lines, and we're working with them to get any power that has been lost restored."

On Friday, the wildfire became visibly active at its northern edge near Oliver, in some places putting up plumes of very dark smoke. Dark some sometimes indicates fuel or something manmade is burning.

BC Wildfire was not able to say whether structures in that area are being affected. RDOS CAO Bill Newell said the only time that information would be confirmed is after a homeowner was informed, and they would do a damage assessment once BC Wildfire gave the okay to enter the area.

UPDATE: 1:50 p.m.

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen, BC Wildfire and other local officials will be providing a live media briefing on the wildfire situation in the area.

Watch it live at 2 p.m. above.

Casey Richardson

UPDATE: 11:45 a.m.

The official size estimate of the Nk'Mip Creek wildfire has ballooned to 6,800 hectares Friday morning.

BC Wildfire Service had been having difficulty mapping the out-of-control blaze due to low visibility and smoke in the area, resulting in the size estimate staying stagnant at 2,000 hectares for days.

Clearer skies Friday have allowed them to update the size.

Yesterday, there was significant fire spread to the north towards Camp McKinney Road, away from Osoyoos and toward the Oliver area.

Crews continued to work through the night to protect structures and critical infrastructure. Heavy equipment continues to be used to build fire guards. The terrain is steep and rocky in some areas which can limit the use of equipment.

UPDATE: 11:30 a.m.

Nk'Mip Creek wildfire activity as viewed from Oliver has suddenly increased, putting up a plume of dark smoke shortly before 11:30 a.m. Friday.

Castanet reporter Casey Richardson was on scene in the 6000 block of Oliver when the plume went up to the east of town.

Local residents told her they fear it is in the vicinity of buildings they know to be in the area. Dark smoke typically indicates manmade or man-altered materials in flames, rather than trees or brush.

Casey Richardson

The Nk'Mip Creek wildfire saw heightened activity and increased smoke, along with "significant growth," overnight, mainly in a northern direction.

According to a Friday morning BC Wildfire Service update, the fire is still officially listed as 2,000 hectares in size, but it is likely much larger as limited visibility has proven challenging for mapping.

"Yesterday, there was significant fire spread to the north towards Camp McKinney Road. Crews continued to work through the night to protect structures and critical infrastructure. Heavy equipment continues to be used to build fire guards. The terrain is steep and rocky in some areas which can limit the use of equipment," reads the update.

Crews are working to remove available fuels from properties in the area. BC Wildfire says the fire behaviour is "aggressive and challenging."

The Oliver Fire Department said on Facebook Friday morning that prescribed burns were done, and that fire crews including their own personnel were in the area for structure protection and patrols throughout the evening.

"Smoke will be visible for the next few days in those areas as ground crews and helicopters work on terrain that is difficult to access. We appreciate everyone's patience as we work to bring this fire under control and try to get people back to their homes and properties," the department wrote.

The Nk'Mip Creek wildfire sparked Monday and is still classified as out of control.

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