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

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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Crystal Pool and Fitness Centre will reopen Feb. 1 after a nearly 10-month closure to curb the spread of COVID-19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Crystal Pool and Fitness Centre gears up for safe reopening in Victoria

Recreation facility opens Feb. 1 with reservation system to prevent crowding

Coun. Jack McClintock said he would have voted for a proposed statutory holiday recognizing residential school survivors if he had had all of the information. (Black Press Media File)
North Saanich split over statutory holiday recognizing residential school survivors

Legislation would recognize Sept. 30 as National Day of Truth and Reconciliation

(Black Press Media file photo)
Break and enter suspect caught in the act by Saanich police, charged for seven other similar crimes

40-year-old accused of breaking into bank, restaurant, six liquor stores since October 2020

The Sooke School District raised more than $18,000 for the Goldstream and Sooke food banks from the funds of 10,000 Tonight in December 2020. The funds go two- to 2.5-times further due to the buying power of the food banks. (Black Press Media file photo)
SD62 high school students raise more than $18,000 for food banks

Edward Milne in Sooke rakes in $11,000 alone

(Black Press Media file photo)
Bylaw officers called to Saanich park for COVID-19 protocol violations on pickleball court

Raquet sport players reminded to avoid doubles play amid pandemic

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Surrey provincial court. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
New COVID-19 protocols set for provincial courthouses

The new rules were issued on Jan. 21, and took effect immediately

Dog owners, from left, Marlyn Briggs with Nayla, Marjory Sutherland with Effie and Mick, and Christina Godbolt with Conon walk their pets frequently at the Chemainus Ball Park but are growing increasingly concerned about drugs being found discarded in the area. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Puppy rushed to emergency 3 times after ingesting drugs in Chemainus public spaces

Dog owners walking in Chemainus parks urged to take caution

Police in Vancouver looking for male suspect who allegedly spat and attacked a store manager for not wearing a mask, at 7-Eleven near Alma Street and West 10th Avenue just before noon on Dec. 17, 2020. (Vancouver police handout)
VIDEO: Man spits on 7-Eleven manager over mask rule, sparking Vancouver police probe

‘Unfortunately, the store manager sustained a cut to his head during the assault’

The Vancouver-based SAR team successfully rescued two lost snowshoers off of the west side of Tim Jones Peak in the early morning of Monday, Jan. 19. (North Shore Rescue photo)
B.C.’s busiest SAR team raises alarm after 2021 begins with fatality, multiple rescues

‘People beyond ski resort areas of Seymour, Grouse, and Cypress go without cell reception,’ SAR warns

Police are searching for an alleged sex offender, Nicole Edwards, who they say has not returned to her Vancouver halfway house. (Police handout)
Police hunt for woman charged in ‘horrific’ assault who failed to return to Surrey halfway house

Call 911 immediately if you see alleged sex offender Nicole Edwards, police say

A screenshot from a local Instagram account video. The account appeared to be frequented by Mission students, and showed violent videos of students assaulting and bullying other students.
Parents, former students describe ‘culture of bullying’ in Mission school district

Nearly two dozen voices come forward speaking of abuse haunting the hallways in Mission, B.C.

Joe Biden, then the U.S. vice-president, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau take their seats at the start of the First Ministers and National Indigenous Leaders meeting in Ottawa, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau, Biden to talk today as death of Keystone XL reverberates in Canada

President Joe Biden opposed the Keystone XL expansion as vice-president under Barack Obama

Prince Edward Island’s provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Friday July 3, 2020. A lozenge plant in Prince Edward Island has laid off 30 workers, citing an “almost non-existent” cold and cough season amid COVID-19 restrictions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Almost non-existent’ cold and cough season: P.E.I. lozenge plant lays off 30 workers

The apparent drop in winter colds across the country seems to have weakened demand for medicine and natural remedies

Most Read