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Update: Public asked not to stop on highway for Drought Hill forest fire

Update 7:00 a.m.

It’s been a good night for BC Wildfire Management firefighters monitoring the Drought Hill fire just north of the Okanagan Connector Highway 97C.

Cooler temperatures overnight and little or no wind helped keep the fire activity low.

BC Wildfire Management says the fire remains within retardant guards and is estimated at 30-hectares in size.

One home in the 4700 block of MacKinnon Road remains under Evacuation Order.  No further orders or alerts are in place at this time.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure reminds motorists of a westbound lane closure along Highway 97C the Okanagan Connector, approximately four kilometers from the junction with Highway 97.  Watch for emergency vehicles in the area due to the Drought Hill fire.  For the latest information visit www.drivebc.ca

Update 6:30 p.m.

The public are asked not to stop on Highway 97C near the Drought Hill Forest Fire zone. The area needs to be kept clear for emergency personnel to effectively action the fire.
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A local state of emergency has been declared to facilitate the evacuation of one home in the 4700-block of MacKinnon Road in West Kelowna as it is endangered by the Drought Hill forest fire.

The wildfire is now estimated at 13 hectares in size, being fought by 35 firefighters from the West Kelowna and Peachland fire departments along with B.C. Wildlife Management Branch firefighters.

The fire, which began at 2:30 p.m. this afternoon, has now reduced traffic to one lane in both directions on the Okanagan Connector, Highway 97C, through the fire zone.

Currently, three helicopters, two air tankers and four skimmers are dumping water and retardant on the fire, as air tankers started to drop buckets of water on the blaze at about 3 p.m.

Peachland residents have been dealing with a layer of smoke reaching lower areas of the Okanagan town, along with the increasingly familiar sound of helicopter blades and water tankers overhead, but the flames are thus far working with fire crews and moving away from populated areas.

"Right now the fire is burning up slope," said Kelsey Winter, fire information officer with the B.C. Wildfire Management Branch, adding that retardant has been dropped on about 75 per cent of the fire perimeter.

"There's a pretty calm north easterly wind, and it's going up."

The Regional Emergency Program is mobilizing the Emergency Operations Centre, and asking  that the public not call 911 regarding this particular fire as emergency personnel are aware and on it.

They've also requested that area residents avoid the Trepanier and Highway 97C areas so emergency responders can effectively perform their duties.

Motorists heading along Highway 97C are asked to slow down and stay away from emergency vehicles and watch for any lane closures and traffic personnel.

Monitor www.cordemergency.ca,  www.facebook.com/CORDEmergency or www.twitter.com/CO_Emerg  for confirmed information about the situation

The public can watch for updates at www.cordemergency.ca

Keep checking back at www.kelownacapnews.com for further updates.

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