A helicopter buckets water over the White Rock Lake wildfire near Westside on Aug. 10. (Darren Wolf photo)

A helicopter buckets water over the White Rock Lake wildfire near Westside on Aug. 10. (Darren Wolf photo)

UPDATE: Evacuation order rescinded for 246 Monte Lake, Paxton Valley properties, alert issued

76 nearby properties remain on evacuation order due to White Rock Lake wildfire

UPDATE (6:54 p.m.):

An evacuation order has been partially downgraded to alert for some Monte Lake and Paxton Valley properties affected by the 58,000 hectare White Rock Lake wildfire.

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District (TNRD) announced the order has been downgraded to an alert for the following 246 properties:

• 5731 to 5737 Back Rd;

• 4732 to 4754 Buff Frontage Rd;

• 6607 to 6725 Bulman Rd;

• 6539 Douglas Lake Rd;

• 3011 to 6975 HWY 97;

• 3665 to 3862 Mill Rd;

• 3706 to 3903 Monte Lake Rd;

• 3928 to 3965 Paxton Valley Rd;

• 4080 and 4088 Paxton Valley Rd;

• 6639 Pringle Rd;

• 6572 and 6593 Service Rd;

• 6365 to 6504 Westwold Station Rd; and

• any other properties identified on the attached alert map.

An evacuation order remains in place for the following 76 properties:

• 5300 to 5715 Back Rd;

• 6562 to 6580 Becker Rd;

• 6651 to 6778 Douglas Lake Rd;

• 4120 to 4249 Kristianson Rd;

• 4025 Paxton Valley Rd;

• 4105 to 5970 Paxton Valley Rd;

• 6593 to 6919 Service Rd;

• 5209 Six Mile Creek Rd;

• 4294 Strong Rd;

• 5469 to 5545 Westlund Rd; and

• any other properties identified on the attached order map.

The TNRD reminds residents on alert that an order may be reissued if necessary, and if so, that the evacuation order process will begin again.

UPDATE (4:00 p.m.):

Aerial ignitions will be used on the White Rock Lake wildfire’s east flank from Naswhito Creek to Whiteman Creek ahead of gusty winds in the forecast.

Ground crews will use hand ignitions to support the aerial work, reducing available fuels. A smoke column will likely be visible if general haze clears.

The Okanagan Indian Band said it, like all other agencies involved in the fight against this wildfire, is preparing for the weather change “as it will most likely increase the fire activity and potential for live embers in the surrounding areas.”

“These teams cannot predict the potential impact to our community, however, we can be prepared.”

“The EOC Director, OKIB Leadership, John Davies and BCWS have met with Incident Command and are urging all residents who are on alert to pack up their family ceremonial/cultural items and historical records/photos and move them to a friend or family member’s home outside of the community,” the band said in an update.

Crews remain on the ground in the evacuation zone working to protect properties by applying Fire Smart techniques.

“We want everyone to be safe and the only way we can do that in an unpredictable event like this is to have our people and important things out of the community before the event happens.”

The OKIB said all temporary access permits will be suspended for the next 72 hours to support suppression efforts.

ORIGINAL:

Thick smoke from the out-of-control White Rock Lake wildfire burning between Kamloops and Vernon triggered Environment Canada’s air quality statement and BC Wildfire Services says it’s going to get worse as the forecast calls for winds.

Increased fire activity is expected across most of the fire, the provincial agency said in an Aug. 13 update.

“The fire behaviour that we are seeing out there is beyond extreme, in my opinion,” BCWS incident commander Mark Healey told media at the Vernon fire camp Thursday, Aug. 12. “This fire will grow, for sure. It will grow and we take it day by day.”

More smoke will be visible from the Naswhito Creek area on the southeast flank as the fire burns heavy timber. BCWS warns there is potential for smoke columns to develop.

The forecast calls for winds to switch east to northeast Friday (Aug. 13), which will likely increase activity across the entire eastern and northeastern flank.

Environment Canada is also warning of a heat wave. A building ridge of high pressure will result in temperatures rising throughout the rest of the week with daytime temperatures nearing 35 C.

This ridge is expected to break down by Sunday (Aug. 15) with strong gusting winds from the southeast.

Saturday and Sunday may see significantly increased fire activity based on the forecast.

Heavy equipment and crews are being moved to priority areas on the fire that is expected to be the most challenging along the north, northeast, and east flanks.

Nearly 200 wildland firefighters, 139 structure protection personnel, 15 helicopters, 15 danger tree fallers and 73 pieces of heavy equipment are assigned to the fire.

Healey said never in his nearly three decades of fighting fires has he seen such dry conditions.

“This is a catastrophic event. This isn’t just a wildfire,” he said. “This is something that is, I think, new for everybody.”

READ MORE: Catastrophic White Rock Lake wildfire will grow: incident commander

READ MORE: Over 100 soldiers land in Vernon to assist at Okanagan, 100 Mile fires


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B.C. Wildfires 2021