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UPDATE: Planned ignitions are helping crews battle the Keremeos Creek wildfire, says BCWS

(UPDATE: Aug. 7 @ 8:30 am) – In the latest update from the BC Wildfire Service, the Keremeos Creek fire is still estimated at 5,903 hectares.

Overnight, crews were prepared to respond as necessary as fire activity usually picks up in the evenings.

However, the BCWS explains that the fire is burning well within the perimeter.

“Overnight crews were challenged on the south flank, north of Ollala, with some spotting,” explains the agency.

“They were able to action it and then conduct some hand ignitions to solidify their lines and stalled the fire at the rock bluff north of the village.”

Planned hand ignitions have been a helpful tactic used by crews working on this wildfire.

In a social media post, Mike Morrow, a fire behaviour specialist with BCWS, explains that the planned burns help remove fuels between handguards and the fire.

“The north end of the fire is quite challenging. It’s on top of the ridge heading down into the Marron Valley,” stated Morrow.

“There’s very few places to attempt to stop this, very tough ground, no access.”

Morrow said the intention is to get those handguards as close to the fire's edge as possible then use hand ignitions to remove unburnt fuel up towards the fire.

Crews have established up to three contingency lines in these areas to prevent the fire from spreading outside containment areas.

On the northeast and eastern flanks of the fire, crews continue to build contingency lines while crews on the western flank are using direct attack methods from Green Mountain Road to Keremeos Creek Forest Service Road.

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen has issued evacuation orders for 547 properties across electoral areas “G” and “I”, and Village of Keremeos.
Evacuation alerts remain in place for 1,050 properties. Click here for more information.


(UPDATE: Aug. 6 @ 7:41 am) – The Keremeos Creek wildfire did not experience any growth overnight and remains estimated at 5,903 hectares.

There are 260 wildland firefighters assigned to the fire Saturday with support from 166 structural protection personnel.

“Overnight crews were challenged on the south flank, north of Ollala, with some spotting,” explains the latest update from the BC Wildfire Service.

“They were able to action it and then conduct some hand ignitions to solidify their lines and stalled the fire at the rock bluff north of the village.”

The agency adds that there has been no damage to structures overnight on Friday.

<who> Photo Credit: BCWS

On Saturday, the forecast is calling for a high of 26ºC with relative humidity dropping to the upper teens to lower twenties. Winds are expected to be light throughout the day.

On the northeast flank, crews continue to build contingency lines.

Crews assigned to the eastern flank will be building fuel free lines from Green Mountain Road towards the McKay Creek staging area. Sprinklers will be installed along the road in this area.

On the western flank, crews will be using direct attack methods from Green Mountain Road to Keremeos Creek Forest Service Road. Ground crews will be supported by heavy equipment.

Highway 3A remains closed at this time as crews work to hold the fire to the north of the highway corridor.

For more information about Evacuation Orders and Alerts go to: Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, Village of Keremeos and Penticton Indian Band.


(UPDATE: Aug. 5 @ 2:25 pm) - The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen Emergency Operations Centre (RDOS EOC) met this afternoon to give an update on the Keremeos Creek wildfire.

Previous mapping of the wildfire on Wednesday had estimated it to be around 4,250 hectares, now with a clearer look, the fire is believed to be 5,903 hectares.

Yesterday, a major wind event impacted fire activity which resulted in a number of evacuation alerts being expanded, along with an evacuation order that was put in place for the community of Olalla.

BC Wildfire Service has been working with the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, Penticton Indian Band, Lower Similkameen Indian Band and Okanagan Nation Alliance to provide information on these alerts and orders which can be found here.

A total of 547 properties have been put on evacuation order, while 1,050 have been put on an alert.

BCWS asked for a closure of Hwy 3A in the afternoon, as embers began to fly across the road and spark smaller fires, but Bryan Zandberg, a BCWS spokesperson confirmed those were knocked out quickly.

“You know things did get pretty, I’ll use the word hairy, like along the 3A area there in the southern portion,” explained Zandberg.

“I understand that there is a ranch up there and a trailer park where we were seeing the fire coming way to close for comfort, but excellent work done by all the people who are working with us on this fire; no new structures lost to report.”

Prior to the Ministry of Transportation closing down a portion of the 3A, motorists were posing the most risk to fire crews working along the highway.

“We had a lot of people speeding through there and some real near misses, especially with our structural folks,” Zandberg said.

“They were just reporting this afternoon, people hitting the binders and coming within feet of fire engines on the road, obviously, we don’t want to see that.”

At this time there is no update on when Hwy 3A will re-open, but Zandberg confirmed the area has since been quiet after a controlled burn a few days which eliminated fuels along the road. Check DriveBC for the most up-to-date information on road alerts.

Operationally, the southern part of the fire remains a high priority as crews are working to contain the fire into the cedar creek base to stop the spread near Olalla.

Structure crews continue to work hard in these areas, and 38 pieces of heavy equipment are helping to build a guard on the northern and western flanks of the fire.

Yesterday smoky skies made it difficult for helicopters to assist in suppression efforts due to the wind, but since the winds have died down there are now 15 helis back on scene.

There are currently 227 BCWS firefighters helping battle this blaze along with 166 structural protection personnel from fire departments across BC.

As for the forecast this weekend, they're anticipating less wind but much drier and hotter temperatures that may increase fire behaviour over the next few days.


(UPDATE: Aug. 5 @ 6:50 am) - The Keremeos Creek wildfire has reached 4,250 hectares in size since sparking last Friday night.

Its rapid growth has prompted a massive response from the BC Wildfire Service and local fire departments and plenty of those resources are focused on protecting Apex Mountain Resort.

The fire is still around 3 kilometres away from the ski resort, but it has been evacuated and taken over by BCWS crews who are undergoing a massive effort to protect it.

Apex GM James Shalman highlighted just that in a video released Thursday, in which he shows those efforts first hand.

<who>Photo Credit: Screenshot</who>Apex GM James Shalman highlighted a number of measures in place to protect Apex Ski Resort in a video released Thursday.

Shalman said that crews have gone around to every property at the mountain and fire smarted them, which means things like lumber stacks and other flammable materials have been wrapped in plastic.

He noted that BCWS crews have put together, what they call, the "most extensive sprinkler system they have ever put in place" to protect structures and keep the general area as damp as possible.

In addition, snow-making machines are in use and Shalman explained that they put a large amount of moisture in the air to help with humidity levels.

Apex Mountain Resort remains under an evacuation order and the same order was issued for Olalla on Thursday night.

An evacuation alert has been issued for the Village of Keremeos and crews closed Hwy 3A again on Thursday between Kaleden and Keremeos.

In total, there are 175 firefighters, 12 helicopters and 31 pieces of heavy equipment assigned to the South Okanagan fire.

<who>Photo Credit: BC Wildfire Service</who>There are 175 firefighters working to contain the Keremeos Creek wildfire.


(UPDATE: Aug. 4 @ 5:27 pm) - The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen Emergency Operations Centre (RDOS EOC) has updated a previous evacuation alert to an evacuation order for all of Olalla.

This impacts areas on the east side of Hwy 3A in Electoral Area "G", for more information head to the RDOS page here.

An evacuation alert has also been issued for the Village of Keremeos.


(UPDATE: Aug. 4 @ 3:55 pm) - The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen Emergency Operations Centre has expanded its evacuation alerts and orders due to the threat of the Keremeos Creek wildfire.

Due to the potential danger to life and health, the alert is now impacting properties in the Farleigh Lake and Marron Lake areas.

Residents will be given as much advance notice as possible prior to evacuation but should prepare to leave if the situation evolves.

BCWS is currently monitoring a cold front that is approaching the wildfire, which has the potential to influence fire activity and growth with high wind speeds.

At this time crews are preparing by reinforcing existing control lines and mopping up existing fire edge.

Structure protection crews are being deployed as necessary to bolster existing structure protection systems.

There are currently 345 firefighters on scene, 12 helicopters and 31 pieces of heavy equipment.

The Keremeos Creek wildfire sits at an estimated 4,250 hectares.


(UPDATE: Aug. 4 @ 1:01 pm) – A new evacuation order has been issued affecting dozens of properties near the Keremeos Creek wildfire.

The properties are west of Hwy 3A in Olalla and south of Olalla.

Read the full order here.

<who> Photo credit: RDOS

BC Wildfire Service still estimates the fire to be about 4,250 hectares in size.

In its most recent update, the agency said it had 175 firefighters and 12 helicopters at the fire.

There are also 31 pieces of heavy equipment and 170 structure protection personnel at the scene.


(UPDATE: Aug. 4 @ 6:18 am) – Hwy 3A has now reopened.


(UPDATE: Aug. 4 @ 5:12 am) – The Keremeos Creek wildfire is now estimated to be 4,250 hectares in size.

That's up from 2,790 ha in the previous estimate.

Hwy 3A, meanwhile, is closed in both directions due to the fire.

The closure is between Upper Bench Road and Twin Lakes Road for about 19 kilometres.

A detour is available via Hwy 3 and Osoyoos.

In an update on the fire posted on Wednesday, BC Wildfire Service said its increase in size is due to natural and planned ignitions.

"Planned ignitions are conducted to bring the fire down to control lines so firefighters can action the fire," the agency explained.

According to the most recent headcount, there are 137 firefighters working on the blaze.

They are joined by 10 helicopters and four pieces of heavy equipment.


(UPDATE: Aug. 3 @ 2:24 pm) – Crews working on the Keremeos Creek wildfire are scheduled to begin a planned burn along Highway 3A Wednesday afternoon.

Marg Drysdale, a fire information officer with the BC Wildfire Service, says the planned ignition will cause quite a bit of smoke, however, the burn is being supported by a large ground crew.

"The ignitions are supported by ground crews and the target area is about 200 hectares in size,” said Drysdale.

“This shouldn’t impact Hwy 3A between Keremeos and Kaleden but will be highly visible.”

According to BCWS, the planned ignition will remove unburned fuels from the fire’s pathway in order to prevent the fire from spreading.

Crews will also be building containment lines and contingency lines from the north end of Yellow Lake towards Sheep Creek Road.

Drysdale added that the number of resources assigned to the fire was very helpful.

As of Wednesday, there were 252 firefighters on scene which includes 137 wildland firefighters and 115 structure protection personnel.

Crews are supported by 10 helicopters and four pieces of heavy equipment with additional pieces arriving in the coming days.

There has no been updated estimate in the fire Wednesday afternoon, however, a new updated size can be expected within the next 24 hours.

Residents are reminded to visit the RDOS website for the latest updates on evacuation alerts and orders. Click here for interactive map to search property numbers.


(UPDATE: Aug. 3 @ 10:40 am) – The evacuation alert area around the Keremeos Creek wildfire has been expanded.

It brings the total number of properties under alert to 479.

There are also 324 properties under evacuation order.

The properties added to the alert this morning are in the Grand Oro Road area and along Hwy 3A.

<who> Photo credit: BCWS

Emergency Support Services, meanwhile, said it has registered 157 residents.

There are 55 residents in local hotels and 10 at local homes.

The fire itself is estimated to remain at 2,790 hectares.

In its most recent update, BC Wildfire Service said it has 137 firefighters, 10 helicopters and four pieces of heavy equipment at the fire.

Learn more about the alert expansion here.


(UPDATE: Aug. 2 @ 2:25 pm) – On Tuesday, the BC Wildfire Service and Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen provided another update on the Keremeos Creek wildfire.

Early Tuesday morning, it was estimated at 2,790 hectares after a portion of the fire became visible through the smoke.

No additional growth has been recorded Tuesday afternoon.

Bryan Zandberg, information officer with BCWS, believes the cooler weather that is expected to arrive later this week will help with overall firefighting efforts.

Dozens more properties were issued an evacuation order on Monday. The RDOS also issued an expanded alert on Monday.

Currently, in the RDOS there are 324 properties on evacuation order and 438 on evacuation alert.

In Electoral Area G (Keremos, Hedley, Olalla) there are 24 properties under order and 197 on alert.

As for Electoral Area I (Skaha West, Kaleden and Apex), there are 300 under evacuation order and 241 under alert.

For the latest information on evacuation orders and alerts, click here.

<who> Photo Credit: RDOS

“There's a lot of crews up here,” said Molly Raine, a fire prevention officer with the Apex Volunteer Fire Rescue.

“We have a great view of the fire from up here, we can see the smoke columns.”

Unfortunately, temporary access permits are not being permitted for the Apex area on Aug. 2 unless it is an emergency, such as going back for livestock or other animals.

Raine pointed to the fact that the area is very busy and an active work space filled with work crews, heavy equipment and other vehicles.

As of Tuesday, there are 229 firefighters from across the province battling the blaze. They are supported by eight helicopters and four pieces of heavy equipment.

“It is heartening to see the number of boots that are on the ground now and the plans in place,” said Zandberg.

Zandberg added that additional resources would be arriving and are available as needed.

"We're doing the best that we can and we are making good progress right now," added Zandberg.

Highway 3A remains closed at this time due to fire management efforts. Crews are digging handguards to prevent the fire from spreading.

The BCWS explains that a planned ignition was supposed to happen this morning on the southern flank of the fire, near the highway.

However, due to an increase in activity on the fire this will not happen Tuesday afternoon.


(UPDATE: Aug. 2 @ 5:17 am) – The wildfire in Keremeos has grown substantially, with officials now estimating it to be around 2,790 hectares.

BC Wildfire Service said a portion of the blaze had not been visible earlier due to smoke.

Dozens more properties were issued with an evacuation order on Monday, with people along Sheep Creek Road South, Hwy 3A and north of Olalla Road told to leave their homes.

An expanded alert was also issued.

BCWS said it left structure protection specialist at the fire overnight.

<who> Photo credit: BCWS

The agency added: "Crews are actively building contingency lines on the south side of the ravine on Sheep Creek Road. Crews are building hand lines at the south of Green Mountain Road over to Highway 3. And crews are also working along Green Mountain Road."

<who> Photo credit: BCWS

Firefighters said the weather is expected to be cooler over the next few days, something they intend to use to their advantage.

In its last update, BCWS said it had 144 firefighters, nine helicopters and four pieces of heavy equipment at the blaze.


(UPDATE: Aug. 1 @ 8:16 am) – An evacuation order has been issued for residents of the Apex Mountain Village.

It affects close to 400 people.

<who> Photo credit: RDOS

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) said this morning that, as of 8 am, residents in the area must depart.

Mounties will be helping to get people out, RDOS explained.

An alert has also been issued for the area.

The Keremeos Creek wildfire remains at an estimated 437 hectares this morning, according to BC Wildfire Service.

<who> Photo credit: Apex Mountain Resort </who> The scene at Apex this morning.

In the agency's most recent update, it said there are 37 firefighters, eight helicopters and four pieces of heavy equipment battling the fire.

“We advise everyone to follow the order and immediately leave the area and to find a safe location,” said Adam Goodwin, the ESS co-ordinator for the City of Penticton.

“Staying with family or friends is an option that we would encourage people to use or make other accommodations if you can. This allows us to ensure those with no alternatives are taken care of. No matter which option you choose either come into the ESS or call us. We want to make sure everyone has all the support and information they need and ensure everyone is safe.”

<who> Photo credit: BCWS

Goodwin said he does not expect "any major problems with accommodation or undue stress on local room capacity."

He added: “Our job is to make sure everyone of our neighbours are safe and that they have what they need to get through this stressful time.

“As a community, we’ll all do what we can to help and we’re extremely grateful to community members who are opening up their homes."


(UPDATE: July 31 @ 6:55 am) – In the latest update from the BC Wildfire Service, the Keremeos Creek wildfire is estimated at 437 hectares.

The fire, which was discovered on Friday about 21 kilometres southwest of Penticton, “displayed aggressive and erratic behaviour” says the agency.

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen issued additional evacuation alerts and orders for properties in the vicinity of the wildfire late Saturday.

In addition to the evacuation order for 21 properties along Green Mountain Road, another four properties along Sheep Creek Road have been ordered to evacuate.

An evacuation alert was issued late Friday night for 25 properties. An additional evacuation alert was issued Saturday, July 30 for more than 300 properties in the area.

<who> Photo Credit: RDOS

“This wildfire remains highly visible to Penticton and surrounding communities,” explains the BCWS.

“Highway 3A remains open at this time.”

According to an evening update from the agency, there were 50 personnel assigned to the fire with support from structure protection personnel and paraattack personnel.

Three helicopters were also working on the fire through Saturday evening. They received support from local fire departments.

Ten personnel remained on site overnight.

Unfortunately, the fire continues to burn in operable terrain for air tankers and heavy machinery. Those crews remain on standby.


(UPDATE: July 30 @ 2:30 pm) – The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen and manager of the Kamloops Fire Centre provided an update on the Keremeos Creek wildfire Saturday afternoon.

The wildfire, which is still estimated at 150 hectares, was reported Friday afternoon.

“We were witnessing some pretty aggressive fire behaviour and can assume that the estimate is upwards to two to three hundred hectares,” said Kaitlin Baskerville, manager of the Kamloops Fire Centre.

Baskerville added that the smoke was impacting the ability to accurately map and estimate the size of the fire.

Ground personnel and three helicopters were quick to action the blaze. Air tankers were also sent out to help, however, the terrain has not allowed the bigger aerial resources to work on the fire.

Crews worked until 9 pm on Friday night. A number of ground and structure protection personnel did stay on site overnight to protect homes in the area in the Green Mountain Road area.

On Saturday, July 30, there were 18 personnel responding, four helicopters, structure personnel and a number of local fire departments.

“An additional 20 person unit crew is en route,” said Baskerville.

“We’ve also had eight parrattack personnel deployed to the fire around noon today. Those are provincial resources that are available to us from Fort St John.”

Baskerville added that the Incident Management Team began to arrive in the Penticton area this afternoon and will take command of the fire fighting effort at 9 am on Sunday.

The management team will provide all functions of managing the fire including safety, information, financial logistics, planning and operations, which gives a “more localized support to the incident.”

Baskerville confirmed that there is not a shortage of firefighters like last year, so they are able to utilize as many resources as they can to action the wildfire.

Unfortunately, the RDOS has confirmed that one small residential structure has been lost. It is thought to be an older cabin.


(UPDATE: July 30 @ 11:38 am) – The Keremeos Creek wildfire is now estimated at 150 hectares, according to the latest update from the BC Wildfire Service.

"Overnight, the wildfire jumped the Green Mountain Road to the east. The growth in size reflects this overnight fire behaviour," explains the agency.

"Ground and structure protection personnel remained on site overnight."

There are 10 firefighters, two helicopters and structure protection personnel on site today.

Additional resources are scheduled to arrive throughout the day.

Evacuation order and alerts remain in place, click here to visit the Regional District of Okanagan-Simlkameens website for those detials.


(UPDATE: July 30 @ 6:58 am) – The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen has issued an evacuation order for properties in the Green Mountain Road area due to the Keremeos Creek wildfire.

The order was issued at about 9:30 pm on Friday, July 29 and affects about 21 properties.

<who> Photo Credit: RDOS

The area impacted by the order includes Green Mountain Road between Highway 3A to the south of Apex Mountain Road in the north.

Properties in the general vicinity of Ford Lake have also been ordered to evacuate.

An evacuation alert was also issued Friday night for 25 properties along Green Mountain and Apex Mountain roads.

Be sure to visit the RDOS website or Facebook page for the latest updates.

As of about 10:30 pm, the BC Wildfire Service still estimated the fire to be about 100 hectares.

In the latest update, the BCWS explained that the fire was “displaying aggressive fire behaviour” and it is now considered a wildfire of note.

NowMedia staff will continue to update this story as more information is made available.


(UPDATE: July 29 @ 7:38 pm) – The latest update from the BC Wildfire Service indicates that the Keremeos Creek wildfire is now estimated at 100 hectares in size.

The fire is burning about 21 kilometres southwest of Penticton.

There are now 10 personnel and two helicopters on scene. Additional personnel and a structure protection unit are en route.

“This wildfire is located in terrain that is inoperable for airtanker and heavy machinery support at this time,” explains a post from the BCWS.

NowMedia staff will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.


(Original story: July 29 @ 6:57 pm) – As things remain hot and dry across the Okanagan, a spot fire has popped up south of Penticton.

According to the BC Wildfire Service, the fire is estimated at about eight hectares.

<who> Photo Credit: PentictonNow reported Gord Goble </who> Photo taken from Munson Mountain in Penticton.

It is located near Apex Mountain and the cause is currently unknown.

The BCWS is calling this fire the Keremeos Creek wildfire.

Fire information officer Aydan Coray has confirmed there are eight personnel on scene with the support of two helicopters.

Additional personnel are en route to the site and more information will be provided as it becomes available.

NowMedia staff will update this story as more details are released.

<who> Photo Credit: BCWS



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