West Kelowna  

Overnight fire fight

Colton Davies

UPDATE: 8:30 a.m.

Seven BC Wildfire crew members and two pieces of heavy equipment remained at the site of the Finlay Creek wildfire overnight, according to Jody Lucius, fire information officer.

Lucius was unable to provide an update on current conditions until after an operational meeting at 9 a.m.

She said a decision would be made on whether air support was needed Sunday to fight the blaze southwest of Peachland. 

More than 100 properties were put on evacuation alert last night.

People living along the lake say there was a thick haze Sunday morning.

Photos sent in to Castanet showed some overnight flareups in the forested area. 

UPDATE: 12:20 a.m.

Unconfirmed reports from residents say the Finlay Creek fire continues to grow and move south, late Saturday night.

Other residents reported hearing an explosion near the fire, but that is also unconfirmed.

Viewers photos of the fire submitted from Summerland, Naramata and Black Mountain in Kelowna show a large glow through the smoke.

Ground crews continue to battle the blaze overnight.

The BC Wildfire Service is expected to provide an update on Sunday morning. 

UPDATE: 9:15 p.m.

A wildfire burning in Peachland near Finlay Creek is now 100 hectares in size.

BC Wildfire Service Information Officer Rachel Witt said the fire continues to be quite visible, but the fire behaviour is at a rank two.

"We are seeing less open flame and it will hopefully decrease overnight and winds will die down overnight," said Witt.

Seven firefighters and two heavy pieces of machinery will be staying to work on the fire overnight.

A containment number is not know at this time but BC Wildfire Service is expected to have one at some point tomorrow.

"Winds are a concern, any increase in winds is a red flag for us and it was for us today," she said.

Witt added that cooler temperatures at night often help with the fires not growing larger.

Infrastructures are not a concern at this time but crews are aware of the ones in the vicinity.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated.

UPDATE: 8:00 p.m.

The BC Wildfire Service website says the Finlay Creek wildfire was human caused.

The fire started near a road in the backcountry, according to witnesses who spoke to Castanet.

UPDATE: 7:05 p.m.

Eye witnesses to a wildfire burning southwest of Peachland say the blaze started right next to McDougall Road, a dirt road that goes to Darke Lake in the back country.

Provincial officials had urged people to stay out of the backcountry this long weekend due to the dry conditions throughout much of the province and the extreme fire danger rating.

The BC Wildfire Service says the Finlay Creek wildfire is now 40 hectares in size. Strong westerly winds have been fanning the flames and steep terrain has also made the fight difficult, according to a spokesperson.

About 18 firefighters from the forestry service are on the ground while air tankers, skimmers and three helicopters battle the fire from the air.

UPDATE: 6:35 p.m.

Aircraft tackling the Finlay Creek wildfire burning southwest of Peachland have made some good headway but there are strong winds in the area, according to eye witness Jeff Hansen.

"We're not seeing the flames like we could from the beach before," said Hansen, who has been watching the fire since it began after 3 p.m.

He said six planes plus helicopters have been dropping water on the fire.

A BC Wildfire Service spokesperson said efforts are being made to update the size of the fire.

UPDATE: 6:05 p.m.

The Finlay Creek wildfire burning southwest of Peachland has doubled in size to 20 hectares according to the BC Wildfire Service.

Air tankers and three helicopters are battling from the air while seven forestry service crew are battling from the ground. More crew members are on their way to the area.

Steep terrain and westerly winds are factors in the fight on the ground. Smoke from the fire can be seen for miles from the southern and northern portions of the Valley.

No structures are threatened at this time, said the wildfire service. 

UPDATE: 5:42 p.m.

Water bombers are hitting a wildfire southwest of Peachland hard but the blaze has grown over the last 90 minutes, according to Jeff Hansen who has watched the developments.

"It's gotten worse over the last hour and a half but there are six bombers on it and they are hitting it pretty hard," Hansen said from his vantage point on Beach Avenue in Peachland.

Hansen said there were boaters on the lake trying to watch what was happening and getting in the way of the large skimmers heading from the lake and back to the fire to dump more water onto it. 

"There is a lot of water going on that fire."

Hansen said the wildfire started around 3:25 p.m.

UPDATE: 5:00 p.m.

A fire burning 7.5 kilometres southwest of Peachland, which is now being called the Finlay Creek wildfire, is currently estimated to be 10 hectares in size.

The BC Wildfire Service reports that the fire is displaying behaviour between rank 2-3, meaning there is candling and some open flames.

Seven firefighters are currently fighting the fire and an additional unit is on route. There are also water tankers and two helicopters on site, according to the BCWS.

No structures are currently threatened by the blaze. 

ORIGINAL: 4:15 p.m.

The BC Wildfire Service has confirmed that fire crews have been called to an area south of Peachland regarding a fire that has sparked up.

Observers first reported the fire at about 3:25 p.m., Saturday afternoon.

The exact location has not yet been confirmed. 

Castanet will provide more information as it becomes available.

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