Update: Oct. 20 9:57 a.m.
RCMP searching the grounds of a Silver Creek property are now looking in the ground.
Police have employed a small backhoe in their search of the residential/agricultural property in the 2200 block of Salmon River Road.
Several officers are working around the backhoe as it digs in a spot at the back of the property below the residential portion, a ways from where barns are located.
More information will be provided as it becomes available.
Update: Oct. 19 4:10 p.m.
A relative of Deanna Wertz, who was reported missing from the Yankee Flats are on July 19, 2016, says police have told him today’s search is not about her case.
Dale Wertz, Deanna’s brother, says his family has been told the search “doesn’t involve any of the women from Yankee Flats road at this time.”
Wertz says he is unable to disclose any other information.
It appears the search effort will be continuing Friday, as RCMP have rented the Silver Creek Community Hall for another day. The hall has been acting as a staging area for police, while the search continues at the Salmon River Road property.
Update 1:56 p.m.
Police can now been seen marking spots on the property with letters. Tents are also being set up and portable washrooms have been brought onto the property.
The police appear to be focused on the residence and immediate area, with fewer officers in the barnyard.
The Observer reporter on the scene is also seeing police searching a number of outbuildings on the upper portion of the site, as well as an RV parked on the property.
Update: 1:23 p.m., Oct. 19
John Simpson, the father of missing woman Ashley Simpson, says his family has been informed by the RCMP that the search in Silver Creek is not related to the disappearance of his daughter.
In an interview with the Observer, John says they had been informed of the search through friends in the area and after contacting the RCMP, they have been told this search has “nothing to do with Ashley.”
John says they were told the police presence was related to something else, but the RCMP officer would not tell them what file they were working on or if it possibly related to any of the other missing women in the area, including Deanna Wertz.
“They did says they were aware of Ashley’s disappearance and would keep a close eye out if anything were to turn up that related to her.”
John says police have been asking more questions of the family about Ashley, her clothes and belongings, so he knows they are still working on her case.
Update: 1:01 p.m.
The Vernon North Okanagan RCMP confirms they are conducting a search of a property in the 2200 block of Salmon River Road.
“This investigative effort and execution of a search warrant is in relation to an ongoing investigation,” says RCMP media spokesperson Cpl. Dan Moskaluk.
“No further information is being released at this time to ensure the integrity of the ongoing investigation.”
There was no comment from police about whether this ongoing investigation is related to missing women in the area.
While there have been rumours that the Silver Creek Elementary School is on lock down, this is not correct. The students were held back for a few minutes from being sent outside while school officials determined the reason for the police presence across the street from them at the Silver Creek Hall, however, there has been no need to keep the school area secure.
Update: 12:45 p.m., Oct. 19
Police activity has now moved to a home and farm property a few kilometres south of the Silver Creek store.
An Observer reporter on scene says the property is blocked off with police tape and there are additional officers on scene.
The mobile command units have been moved from the hall in Silver Creek to this property and there are officers moving around a sunken barnyard area of the property, which has a house on higher ground a dirt road leading to some farm buildings on the lower portion.
Original story, 12:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 19
There is a significant police presence at the Silver Creek Hall this Thursday morning, as it appears RCMP officers are gearing up for a search effort.
More than a dozen officers are on scene at the Silver Creek Hall and have taken backpacks and food inside.
There are two large vehicle command units on scene as well as marked and unmarked police vehicles.
The Observer has a reporter on scene, however, police are making no comment at this time.
It is not known what case the police are working on.
There are three missing women from the area, including Ashley Simpson and Deanna Wertz who both went missing from the Yankee Flats area. Caitlin Potts, an Enderby woman, is also missing, although she was last seen in Kelowna. A Malakwa woman, Nicole Bell, also remains missing after her disappearance was reported to police on Sept. 7, 2017.
There have been previous police searches conducted in the area around where these women have been reported missing.
More to come.