West Kelowna  

Winds expected at fire

UPDATE: 3 p.m.

The BC Wildfire Service has additional resources working on the Gottfriedsen Mountain fire, which is burning 24 kilometres west of West Kelowna, including four helicopters and one air tanker. 

While seven firefighters battled the blaze through the evening, 14 are on scene this afternoon, working on the east flank of the fire. The BC Wildfire Service initially said crews were working on the west flank, but this was incorrect. 

Fire information officer Brenna Ward says the fire is burning in the southwest direction today.

“Better conditions this afternoon, so it's not burning as rapid, however that might change later in the day when we are expecting worse winds," Ward said. 

UPDATE: 11:50 a.m.

The large wildfire burning north of the Okanagan Connector has jumped in size again, and now sits at 550 hectares.

The wind-driven fire is believed to have been sparked by lightning Thursday afternoon, and quickly grew northward. The fire has been showing Rank 5 behaviour, meaning flames are burning in the tops of trees.

Two fishing lodges and several cabins in the area were put under an evacuation alert Thursday night.

Fire information officer Brenna Ward says they expect the fire to continue to grow.

The BC Wildfire Service currently has seven firefighters fighting the blaze, and “a lot more heavy equipment” are on the way to the scene. They'll continue to try and put down guards using the heavy equipment.

Helicopters and air tankers are currenlty on standby.

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District issued an evacuation alert for a large remote area north of the Pennask Summit due to the blaze.

Debbie Sell with the TNRD says the Pennask Lake Lodge and the Hatheume Lake Resort are within the alert area, along with cabins near these lodges.

“There may be recreational cabins out there as well,” Sell said. “It's very difficult when it starts to get into those more remote locations because people will build without building permits or they don't have addresses or they just exist, but nobody knows that it's an actual building.”

Diane Brassard, a manager at the Hatheume Lake Resort, said they could see flames from the resort as darkness fell Thursday night, but today it's tough to see the fire through the smoke.

She says they've had people cancel reservations since the fire broke out, and it's mainly cabin owners in the area today.

“We're pretty safe, everybody's aware of the alert and everybody's all ready to, if need be, pick up and go,” Brassard said.

Things could go from bad to worse across the Valley though, as thunderstorms are forecast this afternoon and into Saturday. 

"The thunderstorms could cause some gusty winds, often like 40 to 50 (km/h) or higher," said Doug Lundquist, meteorologist with Environment Canada.

ORGINAL: 6:30 a.m.

The Gottfriedsen Mountain fire burning west of West Kelowna is now an estimated 400 hectares and it will likely grow Friday as winds pick up. Early indications are that it may have been started by lightning.

An evacuation alert has been issued for a large area near the Pennask Summit, due to the aggressively burning Mount Gottfriedsen wildfire.

The weather is expected to change over the next 24 hours with temperatures dropping to daytime highs of 24 C and the winds are also expected to pick up.

Environment Canada also indicates there is the possibility of lightning, and although there is rain in the forecast, it's not expected to be significant enough to help fight the flames.

BC Wildfire Service has also upgraded their interactive wildfire map. Now in addition to displaying the locations and perimeters of active wildfires, it also displays which areas are affected by evacuation alerts and evacuation orders.

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