White Rock Lake fire sees under 'elevated fire behaviour' on Saturday, growth expected to continue

White Rock jumps in size

UPDATED: 7:15 p.m.

Both the Shuswap Emergency program and BC Wildfire Service updated the White Rock Lake Wildfire on Saturday evening, highlighting the growth and elevated fire behavior.

The wildfire is estimated at 24,000 hectares in size with growth to the east and northeast. Both the Evacuation Alert and Order remain in effect.

"Conditions on site are extremely smoky, which is hampering the ability for aircraft to fly and challenging suppression efforts. Heavy smoke in the area is also impacting hydro lines. As a result, power outages have occurred and may continue to do so," BCWS stated in their update.

Crews are continuing to work towards safe, achievable operational objectives under extremely adverse conditions. Public and first responder safety remains BCWS's top priority.

To protect the safety of the public and first responders, the BC Wildfire Service will continue to evaluate the need for further evacuation orders and alert recommendations.

ORIGINAL: 8:40 a.m.

Fire crews are expecting “extremely adverse conditions” on the White Rock Lake wildfire this weekend, with high temperatures, dry conditions and possible variable wind shifts.

The large fire burning southwest of Westwold remains estimated at 20,891 hectares in size, but it's expected to grow towards the east and northeast directions Saturday.

The BC Wildfire Service says extremely smoky conditions on the fire continue to cause problems for air support on the blaze.

“Today, very high temperatures and dry conditions will continue to bring elevated fire behaviour,” the BCWS said in its morning update. “Isolated showers with a slight risk of thunderstorms this afternoon may bring variable wind shifts and further hamper suppression efforts.

"Crews are continuing to work towards safe, achievable operational objectives under extremely adverse conditions. Public and first responder safety remains BC Wildfire Service's top priority."

Firefighters continue to patrol a machine guard line that was built along a powerline on the northwest flank, extinguishing hot spots, while another machine guard is being built, connecting to Monte-Pratt Road.

The BCWS says if conditions are favourable, more planned ignitions will take place on the southeast and northeast flanks of the fire.

There are 117 firefighters working on the large blaze, including 100 from Quebec. Eight helicopters, 38 pieces of heavy equipment and nine danger tree assessors and fallers are also on scene. Additionally, 40 firefighters from 10 different municipal fire departments are working to protect structures from the fire.

“Structural protection personnel will continue to assess and prioritize critical infrastructure and properties, working from Monte Lake towards the Falkland Corridor via Highway 97,” the BCWS said.

There remains 115 properties evacuated due to the fire, in the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, the Regional District of North Okanagan and the Columbia-Shuswap Regional District. Friday, the Regional District of Central Okanagan issued an evacuation alert for properties north of Sugarloaf Mountain.

More Vernon News