The Okanagan Mountain Park wildfire is burning in the hills south of Kelowna. Image: Instagram/c_kirzinger

Evacuation numbers remain at nearly 1,000 as B.C. wildfires rage on

200 firefighters and 18 helicopters were working to increase the containment of the fires

Officials in British Columbia’s Okanagan region were hopeful that fire crews could aggressively tackle the flames on Saturday, as the weather forecast called for more cloud cover and less wind than in recent days.

Spokeswoman Noelle Kekula with the region’s complex incident team said that while some wildfires in the Okanagan stayed the same size overnight, others grew slightly.

“Over the last day we have seen that the (fires) have stayed within our containment lines,” Kekula said. “So they’re just growing a bit, but staying within our containment lines.”

The number of properties under evacuation order or alert remains at nearly 1,000 as the fires continue to burn in the popular tourist area of the province’s southern Interior.

Kekula said that about 200 firefighters and 18 helicopters were working to increase the containment of the fires and get water on the perimeter.

“In the Okanagan complex, our priorities are life, property and infrastructure, and with any of those three, that’s where we’re focusing our attention on,” she said.

Earlier this week a lightning storm hit the region, which spans from Salmon Arm in the north to Osoyoos in the south.

Cameron Baughen, spokesman for the emergency operation centre in the southern part of the Okanagan region, said on Saturday evening that there were 30 properties under evacuation order.

He also said about 200 properties were under an evacuation alert, which means that residents can go back to their homes, but they must leave immediately if told that the fire has gotten worse.

In the central part of the region, 766 properties were on alert, but none were on evacuation order.

Okanagan is the province’s main wine-making region and is a popular tourist area for travellers from B.C., Alberta and the U.S.

Kekula said one fire that is taking up significant amount of resources to contain is called the Mount Eneas fire, which spans about 13.7 square kilometres.

— By Alanna Rizza in Toronto

The Canadian Press


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