Update: At 3 p.m, the B.C. Wildfire Branch downgraded the evacuation order for the Sidley Mountain fire to an evacuation alert.
The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen has now rescinded the evacuation order for residents of Nine Mile Place on Anarchist Mountain due to a reduced threat of wildfire.
Nine Mile Place, along with residents of Raven Hill Road and Raven Hill Place, will remain on evacuation alert due to continued strong winds in the area that may cause fire conditions to become volatile again.
Residents should still prepare to leave their homes on short notice if the fire situation worsens.
B.C. Wildfire crews remain on scene and the Anarchist Mountain Fire Department is now on standby. The Regional District Emergency Operation Center will remain active to support the event.
Fires on both sides of the Canada U.S. border are causing concern for residents in the Rock Creek, Anarchist Mountain, Osoyoos and Oroville, Wa. areas.
The Sidley Mountain fire started in the U.S. and has spread across the border east of Osoyoos, prompting the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen to issue an evacuation order for residents of Nine Mile Place. Residents of Raven Hill Road and Raven Hill Place are on evacuation alert.
The fire, which is now burning about 50 hectares on the Canadian side of the border and 1,000 hectares on the U.S. side was started on Aug. 13 by a fatal plane crash off Chesaw Road in the highlands above Oroville. B.C. Wildfire Service officials are working closely with their counterparts in the U.S., who are also responding to the fire.
“We were able to pre-position heavy equipment, aircraft and personnel to respond to it,” said Kayla Pepper, Fire Information Officer for the Kamloops Fire Centre.
Firefighting aircraft are supporting ground crews to slow the fire’s spread in grass and open timber. Firefighters and heavy equipment operators worked overnight and more crews are on site this morning.
Good progress has been made to guard the fire on the Canadian side of the border, according to a release issued by the B.C. Wildfire Service Friday. No structures have been lost in that fire as of yet.
The fire is separate from the nearby Rock Creek fire, which is currently burning over 1,800 hectares and has prompted the evacuation of more than 200 homes, and hundreds of residents and campers, in both Rock Creek and Westbridge. At least one home has been destroyed, at the Rock Creek Riverside Campground.
There are 13 new wildfires burning in the Kamloops Fire Centre, including the 300-acre Skuhun Mountain wildfire burning between Highway 8 and Highway 97C in the Merritt area and the Long Lake Road wildfire west of Stump Lake and Highway 5A, which has grown to 236 hectares, but is now 60 per cent contained.
The Kamloops Fire Centre is urging people to use extreme caution in the backcountry and refrain from activities that may cause a wildfire. Currently, the fire danger rating throughout the Kamloops Fire Centre is high to extreme. Forecasted severe weather conditions may aggravate both existing fires as well as spark new blazes.
Environment Canada has put out a severe thunderstorm alert for the Okanagan Valley, including Oliver and Osoyoos, that may be capable of producing strong wind gusts, large hail and heavy rain.
Weather conditions are calling for showers or thunderstorms starting around 1 p.m. on Friday in the Rock Creek – Osoyoos area with rain lasting well into Saturday.
An upper low pressure system moving into Washington State Friday afternoon will result in the development of thunderstorms and possibly severe thunderstorms. Environment Canada has warned to be prepared for the weather as fast-moving water across a road can sweep a vehicle away and large hail can damage property.
South of the U.S. border, officials have closed about an eight-mile stretch of the Oroville-Chesaw Road because of several wildfires burning in the area, about five miles east of Oroville.
As many as five fires had been reported near Oroville in the Nine Mile, Circle Road and Havillah Road areas. Early reports were that some of the fires were man-made, but the local sheriff’s office has not confirmed that at this time while the cause is still under investigation.
In addition to crews from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and local firefighters, there were three planes and one helicopter dropping water and retardant on the spreading fires and bulldozers were being used to try and draw fire lines.
For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories visit: http://www.bcwildfire.ca. You can also follow the latest wildfire news on Twitter at BCGovFireInfo or Facebook at BCForestFireInfo.
To report a wildfire or open burning violation, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone.