As British Columbians now sit under a provincial state of emergency, Okanagan residents endured another sleepless night as three major fires and dozens of others proved troubling and aggressive for fire crews.
Tragically, more structures were lost in the Sorrento area near Salmon Arm, due to the Lower East Adams Lake fire that continues to grow, sparking further evacuation orders along the way.
As of Friday mid-day, there were 4,800 properties impacting 15,000 people under evacuation order across B.C. – with a lion’s share in Okanagan – and that number has grown exponentially since.
An update is anticipated by B.C. Wildfire officials in coming hours.
McDougall Creek Fire – West Kelowna
Size and location: 10,500 hectares, started 10 km northwest of West Kelowna
State and cause: Considered out of control, and cause under investigation
Current evacuations: An estimated 3,000 properties are under evacuation order and 4,801 properties are under evacuation alert.
There were 80 structure personnel working overnight on this growing fire, BC Wildfire Service said in an update late Friday. Overnight response was largely fire front following tactics, evacuating residents and fighting fire in neighbourhood and interface areas as it came down towards homes.
Fire activity is expected to remain aggressive, and crews will be prioritizing sides of the fire that are closest to homes.
The two wildfires that sparked in Kelowna late Thursday in the Wilden and McKinley areas night are still considered out of control as well.
Crater Creek – Similkameen
Size: 22,000 hectares, started 19 km southwest of Keremeos
State and cause: Considered out of control, caused by lightning
Current evacuations: Electoral Area “G” along the Similkameen River on the west side of Highway 3 from 3675 Highway 3 to 4355 Highway 3. This includes Suncatchers RV Park, Riverside MH Park and Lucky R MH Park.
This fire is burning in steep and dangerous terrain.
The west and south flanks of this fire are exhibiting Rank 3 fire behaviour, meaning a moderately vigorous surface fire with an organized flame front, the potential for occasional candling and a moderate rate of spread, wildfire officials said in an update. The southeast corner is exhibiting Rank 4 fire behaviour, meaning a highly vigorous surface fire with an organized flame front and a moderate to fast rate of spread with the potential for short-range spotting.
There are visibility challenges along the northeast flank of the fire.
Lower East Adams Lake – Chase/Sorrento
Size: 10,000 hectares
State and cause: Out of control, caused by lightning
Current evacuations: The following Celista properties are under evacuation order : 4001 to 4596 Meadow Creek Road. The remainder of Meadow Creek Road, and the communities of Lee Creek and Scotch Creek, are now under evacuation order.
The entire Village of Chase is now on evacuation alert.
Extreme fire behaviour developed around 2 p.m. Friday, driven by winds from the north. Multiple evacuation orders have been issued this evening.
It is unknown at this time how far the fire has spread south or east. Operations will fly the fire as early as possible Saturday morning. BCWS will be in close coordination with local authorities for response objectives.
BC Wildfire Services is expected to have updates for the fires around 8 a.m.