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B.C. WILDFIRES: What you need to know for Saturday, Aug. 19

Okanagan is seeing the worst of severe wildfires, sparking state of emergencies and numerous evacuation orders
People wear masks due to poor air quality as smoke from the McDougall Creek wildfire fills the air in Kelowna, B.C., Friday, Aug. 18, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

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.

READ MORE: Firehall, other structures believed lost to wildfire in North Shuswap

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.

On Friday, Premier David Eby declared a provincial state of emergency to the backdrop of B.C.’s worst wildfire season on record.

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/updates: 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.

READ MORE: Mobile home parks evacuated due to Crater Creek wildfire near Keremeos

READ MORE: Chief frustrated with how Crater Creek wildfire near Keremeos has been handled

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/updates: 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.

READ MORE: North Shuswap evacuation order expanded, order issued for Turtle Valley

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.

Kookipi Creek – Boston Bar

Size: 8,700 hectares

State and cause: Out of control, caused by lightning

Current evacuations/updates: Evacuation orders are in effect within the Fraser Valley Regional District, Thompson-Nicola Regional District, Lytton First Nation and Kanaka Bar Indian Band.

READ MORE: More evacuation orders and alerts for Kookipi Creek wildfire

Gusty winds, following the recent heat wave and drought conditions, have resulted in extreme fire behaviour and further growth to the north and east past the Nahatlatch and Fraser Rivers, crossing into the Kamloops Fire Centre.

This fire is burning in complex, steep terrain and today continued high winds are resulting in extreme fire behaviour.

About the Author: Ashley Wadhwani-Smith

I began my journalistic journey at Black Press Media as a community reporter in my hometown of Maple Ridge, B.C.
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