Update: Fire south of Penticton now contained

Crews spent Sunday night digging a hand guard around the 70-hectare wildfire in the White Lake area, southwest of Okanagan Falls.

An aerial view of a Valhalla helicopter dropping a bucket of water on a hot spot as BC Forest crews wait on the ground to move in at the White Lake fire Monday afternoon. At the time the fire was 70 per cent contained and about 70 hectares was involved. Investigators were on the scene during the day to try and determine how it began. It is believed to have started near the roads and was possibly human caused.

An aerial view of a Valhalla helicopter dropping a bucket of water on a hot spot as BC Forest crews wait on the ground to move in at the White Lake fire Monday afternoon. At the time the fire was 70 per cent contained and about 70 hectares was involved. Investigators were on the scene during the day to try and determine how it began. It is believed to have started near the roads and was possibly human caused.

Update, July 29,  4:30 p.m.

Fire information officers said due to the hard work of crews in co-ordination with the Willowbrook Volunteer Fire Department, the wildfire near White Lake Road is now 100 per cent contained.

Firefighters will continue working on the fire this afternoon, and 10 personnel will remain onsite throughout the night.

Mark Pendergraft, board chair of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, said the evacuation alert to 12 properties in the White Lake area was rescinded on Monday afternoon. He said the alert may be reinstated if there is renewed concern about the fire threatening the properties.

“The specific cause of the fire remains under investigation, but it is believed to be human-caused,” said Pendergraft in a press release.

Update, July 29,  8 a.m.

The wildfire burning in the White Lake area, five kilometres southwest of Okanagan Falls is now 70 per cent contained, said Mellisa Welsh, fire information officer with the Kamloops Fire Centre.

“We had 30 crew working overnight digging a hand guard,” said Welsh.

Additional crews are expected to arrive this morning.

Firefighters have been fighting the blaze, in sagebrush, grass and open timber since Sunday afternoon.

The fire, initially estimated at 50-hectares in size, grew to 70 hectares thanks to strong winds in the area late Sunday afternoon.

An evacuation alert is still in place for residents on Willowbrook and Yellowbrick roads.


Update: 9 p.m.

A wildfire near White Lake Road, five kilometres southwest of Okanagan Falls, which has grown to 70 hectares following strong winds in the late afternoon, is now suspected of being human-caused, said  Melissa Welsh, fire information officer with the Kamloops Fire Centre in an information bulletin.

An evacuation alert, issued by the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen for 12 residences on Willowbrook and Yellowbrick roads is still in effect.

Five helicopters along with 36 firefighters and two pieces of heavy equipment, together with members of the Kaledan, Oliver and Willowbrook fire departments continue to work to establish control lines.

Additional crews are expected Monday morning.


Update: 8:12 p.m.

“The fire behaviour has reduced out there,” said Michaela Swan, an information officer for the B.C. Wildfire Management Branch.

As of 8 p.m., 12 homes remained on evacuation alert and ground crews were still battling the fire, Swan said, while seven air tankers responsible for dumping fire retardant had returned to base.

“There is still a lot of work to do and we’ll be on the ground throughout the night,” she said.

Swan also noted officials hadn’t yet had a chance to estimate what percentage of the fire had been contained by control lines.

The fire was reported at 3:30 p.m. and started about five kilometres southwest of Okanagan Falls near the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, which has so far escaped damage.


Update 7:24 p.m.

Willowbrook resident Christal Angevine Holland told the Western News she lives near the intersection of Willowbrook and Green Lake roads and is under heavy smoke.

She said neighbours to the north are evacuating and moving out their animals, and that police have blocked incoming traffic, except water trucks.


Update: 6:24 p.m.

Twelve homes are now under an evacuation alert due to the fire in the area of White Lake Road, according to a bulletin issued at 6 p.m. by the B.C. Wildfire Management Brach.

The fire, approximately five kilometres south of Okanagan Falls, is still pegged at 50 hectares with no containment, the bulletin said.

The evacuation area is near the community of Willowbrook, south of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory.

Properties under evacuation alert are as follows:

Willowbrook Road: 3566, 3639, 3749, 3775, 4351.

Yellowbrick Road: 192, 131, 137, 132, 145, 144, 138.


Update: 5:42 p.m.

The regional district says three homes are on evacuation alert, not under an evacuation order, contrary to information provided by the Wildfire Management Branch.

Emergency services supervisor Dale Kronebusch said the alerts were issued this afternoon, but is unsure if the affected residents actually left their homes. He said no other homes appear to be in the fire’s immediate path.

Kronebusch said the fire started near the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory and jumped White Lake Road.


Posted: 5:24 p.m.

A wildfire burning this afternoon near Okanagan Falls has already grown to 50 hectares in size.

The blaze was reported at 3:30 p.m. about five kilometres southwest of the community and is moving “aggressively” due to high winds, according to Melissa Welsh, an information officer for the B.C. Wildfire Management Branch.

Four homes on the Fairview-White Lake Road have been evacuated, she said, and 31 firefighters, three helicopters and seven air tankers are working the fire.

“They are being challenged by high winds in the area,” Welsh added.

More to come.


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