The City of Penticton held a noon press conference with BC Wildfire Service and the Regional District of the Okanagan Similkameen officials regarding the status of the Christie Mountain wildfire on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020. (BC Wildfire Service photo)

The City of Penticton held a noon press conference with BC Wildfire Service and the Regional District of the Okanagan Similkameen officials regarding the status of the Christie Mountain wildfire on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020. (BC Wildfire Service photo)

Christie Mountain wildfire sees ‘minimal’ growth despite heavy winds

55 pieces of equipment, 110 firefighters from across B.C. have been released from Penticton blaze

The Christie Mountain wildfire saw minimal growth in size despite heavy Friday winds, thanks to the work of ground and air crews from across the province.

Providing an update on the status of the fire near Penticton, the city held a noon press conference with BC Wildfire Service and the Regional District of the Okanagan Similkameen officials on Saturday (Aug. 22).

Nicole Bonnet, information officer with Wildfire Service, said the size of the blaze remains at an estimated 2,000 hectares (ha), with a likely overnight increase of about 35 ha.

Fire Chief Larry Watkinson said crews did structural defence work on the upper east sides of the community, establishing wet lines in at-risk neighbourhoods and eliminating hot spots around properties.

Despite winds forecasted at up to 70 km/hr, the efforts have inspired confidence that, for now, the fire is no longer encroaching on the community.

“We feel very confident that the fire is no longer threatening structures.”

READ MORE: Area restriction implemented for Christie Mountain wildfire

READ MORE: Helping Christie Mountain wildfire evacuees

Watkinson said 61 pieces of equipment and 143 firefighters from across B.C. were part of the efforts on Friday. About 110 firefighters and most of the equipment were sent home Saturday morning.

“Those 61 pieces of fire apparatus certainty did impact our community,” he said, adding he’s already received messages from the community expressing their appreciation for the firefighters involved.

Donny van Dyk, director of the city’s Emergency Operations Centre, confirmed 3,669 homes remain on evacuation alert, and added the decision to lift the alert must first be approved by BC Wildfire. The alert along the city limits is likely to remain in place for a few more days.

Dan Taudin-Chabot, BC Wildfire operations section chief, said the service is evaluating the alert daily using growth projection models, but risk assessments haven’t yet yielded enough certainty to lift it just yet.

Taudin-Chabot said the passing cold front Friday flipped the wind direction from south to north-northwest.

“Now we’re getting winds pushing on the fire in a direction that we haven’t seen yet,” he said, adding that the new direction is towards an area with more fuels, but fortunately, away from the community.

Another factor that worked in crews’ favour was the fact that the fire was burning in the same location of the Garnet wildfire of 1994, which took out much of the fuel in the area.

Mayor John Vassilaki said he’s grateful that residents in at-risk areas have been taking steps to prepare for evacuation, including pre-registering with emergency support services, packing a 72-hour emergency kit and making arrangements for protecting their pets.

“While the sky is blue here today in Penticton, the risk remains. Please stay safe and please stay vigilant with your planning and preparations,” he said.

For evacuation information, the City of Penticton has a call center, 250-490-2345, open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. over the weekend with extended hours next week.

Residents in the affected areas can also pre-register for evacuation assistance at ess.gov.bc.ca. As of 11 a.m. Aug. 22, a total of 4,100 Penticton residents have pre-registered.

Vassilaki also said he’s been pleased to have witnessed fewer people watching the fire from the side of the road, and fewer boats in the way of air tankers and helicopters on Skaha Lake.

Friday at noon, an area evacuation order was initiated for the vicinity of the wildfire area, restricting people without authorization from travelling within mapped geographical boundaries.

READ MORE: Firefighters douse suspicious blazes near Chase


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
Follow us: Facebook | Twitter

bc wildfires

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

Just Posted

An air ambulance carrying a suspected injured longboarder takes off from a Spallumcheen property near Otter Lake Road Saturday, April 17. (Richard Breaks photo)
Suspected longboard crash in Spallumcheen sends individual to hospital via air ambulance

Accident involved a North Okanagan man in his late 20s on Otter Lake Road in the township

Vernon Vipers forward Ryan Shostak (centre) fends off a check from Salmon Arm defenceman to get a close-in scoring attempt on Silverbacks goalie Owen Say during Vernon’s 3-2 B.C. Hockey League pod play shootout victory Saturday, April 17, at Kal Tire Place. (Lisa Mazurek - Vernon Vipers photography)
Vernon Vipers use shootout to subdue Salmon Arm

Snakes score 3-2 B.C. Hockey League pod play win at Kal Tire Place

A GoFundMe page has been launched for a Vernon man whose BX orchard property home off Pleasant Valley Road near Stickle Road was totally destroyed in a fire Saturday, April 17. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Fundraising campaign launched for Vernon man who lost home to fire

A GoFundMe page has been started by family; man taken to hospital with injuries from fire

Armaan Dhaliwal hands a cheque for $500 to Shuswap Hospital Foundation president Angie Spencer as his proud grandparents Gordie and Nancy Dhaliwal watch on Friday, April 16. (Jim Elliot/Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm boy’s samosa sales benefit hospital foundation

Armaan Dhaliwal was able to give the Shuswap Hospital Foundation a $500 donation

School District 83 trustees are expected to be discussing the current Long Range Facilities Plan options at the April 20 school board meeting. (File photo)
Letter: Let the people have their say on Salmon Arm school options

Parent encourages School District 83 board to hold off on making a decision

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

A North Okanagan man in his late 20s was flown to hospital by air ambulance Saturday, April 17, shortly after 6:30 p.m. after allegedly crashing on his longboard on a Spallumcheen roadway. (File photo)
Suspected longboard crash in Okanagan sends individual to hospital via air ambulance

Accident involved a North Okanagan man in his late 20s on Otter Lake Road in Spallumcheen

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A Kelowna Pride Festival 2019 participant holds up a flag. (Kelowna Pride Society)
Kelowna Pride, RCMP continue to work on ‘Safe Place Program’

A new committee has been formed to refine the ‘Safe Place Program’ created by the Kelowna RCMP

Coldstream Fire Department crews stationed at Kal Lake Provincial Park parking lot on Cosens Bay Road on Sunday, April 18, after a car went over a cliff in the area. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)
Driver escapes after car goes over North Okanagan cliff

The driver has been transported to hospital with unspecified injuries

A strange odour at a West Kelowna apartment building prompted the evacuation of 150 residents on Sunday morning, April 18. (Aaron Hemens - Capital News)
Strange smell at West Kelowna apartment prompts evacuation of 150 residents, pets

150 residents ordered evacuated from a West Kelowna apartment building early Sunday morning

This is what’s left of a truck that caught fire at Pyramid Provincial Park off Highway 97 near Summerland Saturday night. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Photo Gallery: Truck gutted by fire at popular Okanagan park, trees saved

Just a metal shell of what once was a pick up truck is left at the scene

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

Most Read