Several properties are on evacuation alert because of a wildfire burning north of Oliver in the Gallagher Lake area. (Photo courtesy of BC Wildfire)

Raptors evacuated due to threatening Okanagan wildfire

Properties on evac alert due to Eagle Bluff wildfire, located north of Oliver in the Gallagher Lake

Instead of a summer breeze wafting through his open window on Sunday night, Michael Walker got the rude awakening of wildfire smoke coming through his Deer Park Estates home, located north of Oliver.

It was around 10 p.m. and Walker said he rushed to the window of his home in Gallagher Lake to see what was happening.

“There is was, the fire was unbelievable and we could see it travelling around the transformer wires,” said Walker. “Trees were candling and it appeared the wind was blowing the flames down the mountain. I am guessing it was maybe 500 feet from (Highway 97). We were praying for daylight so the helicopters would come out and put down some water.”

READ MORE: More personnel dispatched to wildfire north of Oliver

Walker, who lives directly across from where the Eagle Bluff wildfire was burning the mountainside and has the highway separating his residence from the fire, said when he woke up in the morning it was like a “mushroom cloud” of wildfire smoke was sitting still above the area.

By 2:30 a.m. the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen emergency operations centre issued an evacuation alert for several properties in Area C. The wildfire, now estimated at 120 hectares, will have up to 90 BC Wildfire personnel working on it Monday with air support. Many reports from people living in the area are stating the bulk of fire suppression this morning seems to be concentrated on the other side of the mountain.

READ MORE: Evacuation alert issued for properties near Gallagher Lake wildfire

Among the properties is on evacuation alert, with its inhabitants on edge is the South Okanagan Rehabilitation Centre for Owls (SORCO). Dale Belvedere, manager, said she was told that those working on the fire are concerned it could jump a creek right at the bottom of the hill and that they should be ready to leave at a moments notice.

Belvedere made the decision to evacuate all the birds on Sunday evening as the flames on the mountainside jumped dramatically around under nightfall.

“It was unbelievable. It puts the fear of god into you. We have a protocol should this ever occur and that is if humans become in jeopardy we have to let all the birds fly off. This was going through my head all night but then volunteers started showing up and getting them caged up properly to be transported,” she said, pausing as a helicopter with a bucket of water flew overhead. “Honestly, this has always been a fear of mine with this property. We have done all we can on the property, cutting branches and raking pine needles up, but there is always that fear. Unfortunately, we are living it right now and we are keeping our fingers crossed.”

The cause of the fire has not been officially determined by BC Wildfire.

“The sight and sound of it was incredible last night. I don’t even know how to explain it. We could see it was difficult terrain they were working on last night and they had to pull out at one point because FortisBC transformers blew up. It was this massive explosion then you could see a big red inferno,” said Belvedere.

While some of the SORCO birds are with volunteers, most of the 30 Burrowing Owls are being transported to the BC Wildlife Park in Kamloops.

Walker, who was driving south towards Osoyoos when contacted, said the smoke that sat like a mushroom cloud this morning had been hit with a breeze. Smoke is also wafting in from a wildfire south of the border in Washington State. He said the smoke was so thick it was starting to make the mountains disappear. His biggest concern though is for his neighbour across the highway in Country Pines.

“It looked like they might be in some trouble. There is a lot of pine trees there and manufactured homes that seem to be on high alert because there was a lot of activity in the park when we drove by,” said Walker. “I really hope they get this thing under control, all I can say right now is thank-you firemen for doing your job.”

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


@PentictonNews
newstips@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Rob Morrison sworn in as Kootenay-Columbia MP

Parliament set to reconvene on Thursday with election of House Speaker, Throne Speech

Saving trees: Lodge near Glacier National Park honoured for its efforts

Sorcerer Lodge is the first whitebark pine friendly ski area in Canada

LETTER: Reflections on democracy and community from former Green party candidate

Abra Brynne ran in the 2019 federal election to be Kootenay-Columbia’s MP

Basin economic snapshot shows Kootenay a mixed bag

State of the Basin report shows economic recovery from recession a slow go

VIDEO: Boys help rescue Cariboo bear cub

The cub, weighing just 24lbs, has been taken to wildlife sanctuary in Northwest B.C. for the winter

‘Things haven’t changed enough:’ Ecole Polytechnique anniversary prompts reflection

Fourteen women were fatally shot by a gunman at the Montreal school on Dec. 6, 1989

Bear raids freezer, gorges on Island family’s Christmas baking

Hungry bruin virtually ignored meat and fish, focused, instead, on the sweets

B.C. pharmaceutical company’s stocks double in value after successful lupus drug trial

More than 40 per cent of patients using voclosporin saw improvements in kidney function

Arena set to re-open in mid-January

The Town of Golden and Columbia Shuswap Regional District have developed a… Continue reading

Second warning on romaine lettuce from California region as another E. coli case reported

Two cases of E. coli have been reported in relation to the illness in the U.S.

WorkSafeBC investigating serious incident at Kootenay Boundary landfill

Medical incident shut down the McKelvey Creek landfill Friday morning

Residents in B.C. city could face 133% tax hike in ‘worst case’ lawsuit outcome: report

An average home could see a tax increase of $2,164 in one year

Bird populations significantly declining around Revelstoke says Parks Canada

Out of the mountain national parks, bird populations near Revelstoke are in the worst shape

Most Read