New reception centre open in Keremeos as fire crews dealt with 'spotting' north of Olalla

Fire reception centre open

UPDATE: 5:10 p.m.

As crews continue to fight the Keremeos Creek wildfire, the BC Wildfire Service has taken to social media to share all that goes into attacking a wildfire.

"Crew operations are one of the largest parts of the firefighting effort. In this video, a BC Wildfire Service squad boss explains a day in the life of a unit crew on the Keremeos Creek wildfire," the Facebook post said.

Reece Kowalski is a member of the B.C. Wildfire Service.

Kowalski says his day starts just after 4 a.m.

"We hit up the warehouse and get any kind of equipment we need for the day and then we head out to the line. Usually we are on the line at about 6: 30 a.m."

Crews are back at camp after a full day on the line just after 9 p.m.

UPDATE 3:35 p.m.

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen Emergency Operations Centre says there are no changes to evacuation orders or alerts related to the Keremeos Creek wildfire.

Evacuation orders are in effect for 547 properties in the Village of Keremeos and RDOS Electoral Area “G” and Electoral Area “I”. Evacuation alerts are in effect for 1,050 properties. All the affected properties can be found on this interactive map.

The RDOS, in conjunction with the Village of Keremeos, has temporarily opened an Emergency Support Services (ESS) reception centre in the Keremeos Victory Hall at 427 Seventh Ave.

The centre will be open on Sunday until 5 p.m. The hours for Monday have not been established yet.

The City of Penticton ESS reception centre at Princess Margaret Secondary School is closed on Sunday but will reopen Monday, Aug. 8 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The school is located at 120 Green Ave.

According to RDOS, as of 2 p.m. on Saturday, 606 people had registered through ESS.

Here’s how to contact Emergency Support Services:

RDOS Emergency Support Services (ESS): 250-486-1890

ESS Registration & Assistance (ERA): ess.gov.bc.ca

Highway 3A remains closed between Upper Bench Rd and the junction of Hwy 97 (Kaleden Junction) due to the fire.

ORIGINAL 10:40 a.m.

Fire crews fighting the large Keremeos Creek wildfire dealt with some growth north of Olalla overnight, but no buildings were impacted by the flames.

The large fire burning north of Keremeos is estimated at 5,903 hectares in size, and more than 540 properties in the area remain under an evacuation order.

In an update Sunday morning, the BC Wildfire Service says crews dealt with “spotting” on the south flank of the fire overnight, north of Olalla. Spotting occurs when embers from the fire are carried by the wind outside the fire perimeter, starting new spot fires.

“[Fire crews] were able to action it and then conduct some hand ignitions to solidify their lines and stalled the fire at the rock bluff north of the village,” the BCWS says. “There has been no fire damage on structures though the overnight period.”

Additionally, crews on the northeast flank of the fire dealt with strong winds in the area overnight, and they continue to build contingency lines Sunday.

There is currently an inversion over the large fire, causing smoky conditions across the area. The inversion is expected to lift later this morning.

“Once lifted, crews will be conducting planned ignitions to fortify hand guard constructed yesterday,” the BCWS says.

“Crews will use hand ignitions on approximately 30 hectares to secure ground north of Olalla. These ignitions are crucial for creating reliable containment and will bring the fire down to safe, workable ground for crews. Increased fire activity and smoke may be visible from Olalla and Keremeos.”

Firefighters will work Sunday to build a fuel-free line from Green Mountain Road to the McKay Creek staging area, while sprinklers are being installed behind properties on Green Mountain Road.

There are now 213 BCWS firefighters working on the fire, along with 168 structural protection firefighters from departments across the province. Structure protection crews are working in the Sheep Creek, Green Mountain, Apex and Olalla areas.

Sixteen helicopters and 42 pieces of heavy equipment are also assigned the blaze.

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