Highway 3A reopens near Keremeos Creek wildfire

Apex remains evacuated

UPDATE 3:15 p.m.

While evacuation orders and alerts have been lifted for several properties impacted by the Keremeos Creek wildfire, Apex Mountain property owners remain out of their homes for the time being.

During a video news conference Friday afternoon, fire information officer Karley Desrosiers said several factors come into play when determining when to lift the evacuation order at the ski hill.

Not the least of which is the amount of structural protection equipment which remains at the hill protecting home and other buildings in the area.

Logistics are also a factor as BCWS continues to utilize roads in the area to mobilize equipment in and out of the area.

"In terms of fire behaviour, that northwest corner of the fire is where we are seeing a majority of the fire activity and where the terrain and the slopes and such are challenging ground crews and equipment, so at this time we are not at a comfortable place with that fire activity to recommend that quite yet," said Desrosiers.

She says 309 firefighters, 16 helicopters and 49 pieces of machinery continue to work on the fire.

At the present time, 273 properties remain on evacuation order within Electoral Area I while 428 properties within electoral areas B, G and I are still on evacuation alert.

UDPATE 2 p.m.

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen is hosting a live update on the Keremeos Creek fire at 2 p.m.

UPDATE 10:20 a.m.

Highway 3A around the Keremeos Creek wildfire is again open to traffic.

The highway linking Keremeos to Highway 97 and the Okanagan Valley, has been closed for a week due to the wildfire.

The BC Wildfire Service says the fire is no longer a threat to the highway, however speed restrictions are in place and there is the "potential for temporary closures as required by fire officials."

Road restrictions and active flagging is also in place on Highway 3 due to a new wildfire burning between Osoyoos and Cawston.

RCMP and firefighters are active along both highways.

Meantime, evacuation orders remain in place at Apex Mountain Resort and on a portion of Green Mountain Road. Residents are asked to stay out of those areas.

Evacuation alerts are still in place for select properties along Highway 3A between Twin Lakes and Olalla.

ORIGINAL 6:25 a.m.

Control lines continue to hold well at the Keremeos Creek wildfire southwest of Penticton, the BC Wildfire Service says.

In a Thursday night update, the wildfire service says the fire continues to grow slowly in more inaccessible areas where it is not contained.

Wednesday saw an uptick in fire activity in the Cedar Creek area, and crews continue to apply direct and indirect suppression tactics to achieve containment.

"They are working to encircle the fire along the western and northern flanks given the stable containment lines on the southern and eastern sides of the fire. Planned ignitions for target areas will not proceed unless adequate drying and heating conditions are in place," BCWS says.

There is potential for a two-kilometre strip to be burned off, to tie into previous ignitions to solidify control lines northwest of Olalla, along the Olalla Forest Service Road. Residents should expect increased smoke.

Key work areas remain Olalla FSR, Green Mountain Road to the north, Hedges Butte, Keremeos Creek FSR, Winter Creek, the Apex Mountain Resort area, Cedar Creek, and Dividend Mountain.

Drone-operated thermal scanning was carried out again to assist crews in eliminating hotspots along Sheep Creek Road.

"These activities are helping facilitate the return of evacuees and the reopening of this area," says BCWS.

The fire is estimated to have burned 6,712 hectares, the revised size the result of a more accurate track on the northern portion of the fire by ground crews.

Overnight patrols, hotspotting and mop-up in the wildland-urban interface continue along Highway 3A and key sections of the fire guard.

Variable cloud with isolated showers or thunderstorms is expected today.

The BCWS Structure Protection Branch continues to protect properties in all areas of concern at the fire’s edge and has begun demobilizing equipment in specific areas as appropriate.

No structures were lost in the last 24 hours.

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