Some evacuation orders at Keremeos Creek wildfire are lifted

Wildfire not over yet


UPDATE: 3 p.m.

While some residents have been allowed to return home, the situation around the Keremeos Creek wildfire is still in flux Wednesday and everyone on evacuation alert or order is urged to remain vigilant.

Highway 3A has been reopened to local traffic only. The communities of Olalla and Apex Mountain remain on evacuation order, for a total of 493 properties.

At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, BCWS information officer Mikhail Elsay explained they are working to lift even more evacuation orders as soon as it is safe.

"The southern sections of the highway, it's a lot to do with the amount of infrastructure that we put in in terms of structure protection resources. So we have a significant amount of water bladders, hoses, sprinklers, still attached to people's homes that we're working to demobilize at this time,” Elsay said.

“That's the work that's being conducted today, that hopefully we can wrap up so that we can get people back home as soon as possible.”

Those whose evacuation orders have been lifted, a full list of which can be found here on the RDOS interactive map, will receive a "welcome back" package before re-entering their homes.

"Basically it provides a lot of information, everything from garbage collection to drinking water safety and use, food safety if there was retardant dropped on a garden for example or any vegetables or food that you might be growing, things that you need to keep in mind,” EOC information officer Erick Thompson said.

Looking forward, BCWS hopes weather will cooperate, but there are some potential concerns in the forecast Wednesday night.

"We will potentially see a potential lightning event come up through the south part of the province this afternoon into this evening. So it could come with some erratic winds, lightning and potentially some rain as well. So we are tracking that system," Elsay said.

"When the system shows up we will react accordingly."

The Keremeos Creek wildfire stands at 6,836 hectares as of Wednesday afternoon.

UPDATE: 2 p.m.

The RDOS and BC Wildfire Service are hosting a second live update for Aug. 10 on the Keremeos Creek wildfire.

Watch live above.


UPDATE: 11:15 a.m.

Evacuation orders near the Keremeos Creek wildfire are down from 547 to 493 Wednesday, and many properties under evacuation alert have had that lifted as well.

The communities of Olalla, Apex and sections of Green Mountain Road remain on evacuation order, but some properties adjacent to those areas have been deemed safe to return to, with the understanding they remain on alert.

Highway 3A will be reopened only for approved local traffic today, and re-entry packages from the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen will be handed out to those returning home.

There are multiple security checkpoints on Green Mountain Road, routes to Apex, and 3A, ensuring those entering are allowed to do so. Residents are asked to respect the evacuation orders and not attempt to return unless they have been permitted to do so, for the safety of themselves and emergency crews.

BC WIldfire Service information officer Mikhail Elsay said work on the wildfire has been progressing well, and thermal scans will be employed to "nail down the the final spots" near communities.

"These drones are very sensitive, they can pick up even very small amounts of heat. So we'll be able to really confirm the work that we're doing out there," Elsay said.

While the progress is good, there is no timeline for when this fire will be fully extinguished.

"This fire is still an out of control wildfire and while we have been making good progress, this fire is still uncontained, and out of control this time, especially on the western flanks," Elsay said.

"It's a very large fire footprint on the landscape. So we're working as hard as we can to get this fire under control, but it'll be a considerable time yet, before we can fully wrap this thing."

Structure protection has mostly gone well throughout the time this wildfire has been burning. One rural home was lost in the early days of the fire, and overnight Tuesday, one outbuilding was lost in the north Olalla area, but no one was injured.

Check the RDOS interactive map online here to enter your property address and find out whether it is under order, alert, or neither. Those whose orders have been rescinded will be notified.

The RDOS will host another update with BC Wildfire Service at 2 p.m. today, Wednesday Aug. 10. Castanet will carry it live.

UPDATE: 10:15 a.m.

Evacuation orders and alerts have changed for the regions impacted by the Keremeos Creek wildfire.

"Evacuation orders have been rescinded for properties from Twin Lakes to just north of Olalla. This includes selected properties accessed homes along Sheep Creek Road," reads an announcement issued by the RDOS Wednesday morning.

Highway 3A will remain closed except for local traffic. Check points have been established along Highway 3A to restrict traffic to only local traffic accessing properties that have been downgraded from order to alert.

"Due to the threat of wildfire, these properties will remain on evacuation alert," the update reads.

The evacuation alert has been lifted for the Twin Lakes area and White Lake Road area.

Check the RDOS interactive map online here to enter your property address and find out whether it is under order, alert, or neither.

The communities of Olalla, Apex and sections of Green Mountain Rd remain on evacuation order.

The RDOS Emergency Operations Centre is hosting a live video conference at 10:30 a.m. to elaborate on these changes.

ORIGINAL: 6:15 a.m.

Planned ignitions at the Keremeos Creek wildfire southwest of Penticton were paused Tuesday due to precipitation.

In a Tuesday evening update, the BC Wildfire Service says additional ignitions may resume when conditions are more favourable.

The fire remains estimated to have burned 6,836 hectares.

With favourable conditions, crews continue patrols, hot-spotting and mop-up in the interface, Highway 3A and along key sections of fire guard.

On the western flank, crews continue to attack the fire from Green Mountain Road to Keremeos Creek Forest Service Road. Heavy equipment continues to be used to establish contingency lines from Apex Mountain over Dividend Mountain to south Keremeos Creek.

Crews have established hand lines along Olalla Creek Forest Service Road and are mobilizing up into Cedar Creek to build line tying into south end of Dividend Mountain.

Firefighters are working to encircle the fire along the western and northern flanks, thanks to increasingly stable lines on the southern and eastern sides of the fire.

Key work areas include Olalla Forest Service Road, Green Mountain Road to the north, Keremeos Creek FSR, Winter Creek, the Apex Mountain Resort area, Cedar Creek, and Dividend Mountain.

The Structure Branch continues to work in the Sheep Creek, Green Mountain and Apex areas, but is reassigning resources as needed.

A key objective is to continue reducing impacts to the public in a timely fashion, the wildfire service says.

"This requires completing mop-up operations in the wildland urban interface to facilitate residents returning home in a safe manner. Crews continue to mop up the fire along Highway 3A corridor to facilitate return of evacuees and reopening of this travel corridor.

"Structure Protection Branch continues to protect properties in all areas of concern at fire’s edge. Night operations continue with both wildland and structural crews patrolling, mopping up as needed."

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