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(UPDATE: Aug. 26 @ 12:35 pm) - The Keremeos Creek wildfire has made it a long and difficult month for many South Okanagan residents, but it's finally been contained.
The BC Wildfire Service announced shortly after noon that the fire is now considered held after 28 days.
After sparking around dinner time on July 29, it grew to over 7,000 hectares in size and prompted a number of evacuation orders and alerts.
"At this stage, the wildfire will not likely spread beyond predetermined boundaries under forecast conditions," the BCWS said.
"Wildland firefighting crews continue to patrol control lines, conduct fuel management activities and mop-up."
The BCWS noted that wildfires in the South Okanagan continue to burn at a low intensity and nearby residents could notice visible smoke within the fire's perimeter for several weeks.
"In places with the potential for further spread, crews have used a combination of direct attack, black lining and wet lining to extinguish or remove available fuels 15-30 metres from the edge of the fire inward," explained the BCWS.
"Unburnt fuels at a safe distance from established control lines will continue to burn at low intensity with the occasional torching or candling. When possible, allowing natural wildfire extinguishment is healthy for the ecosystem and reduces wildfire risk in the future."
Smoke spotted outside the fire's perimeter should still be reported.
(UPDATE: Aug. 23 @ 4:45 pm) – The last remaining evacuation alerts issued for properties near the Keremeos Creek wildfire have been lifted.
These properties are located on Green Mountain Road and on the northern end of Marron Valley Road.
For a list of all properties, click here.
“The RDOS would like to thank BC Wildfire, the structural fire teams that helped protect homes, Emergency Support Services volunteers and all the other groups that assisted local residents during this wildfire event,” says the release from the RDOS.
In an update provided by the BC Wildfire Service Tuesday morning, the wildfire remains estimated at 7,042 hectares.
Although the South Okanagan saw some wind during a thunderstorm Monday night, those winds did not impact the fire.
According to the BCWS, the fire continues to burn in areas where the moisture level in forest fuels is higher and prevents ignition and spread.
Fire activity remains stable along Highway 3A.
On Tuesday, there were 190 firefighters, 12 pieces of heavy equipment and eight helicopters on site.
(UPDATE: Aug. 21 @ 7:30 am) – Cooler temperatures and some light rain could help firefighting efforts on the Keremeos Creek wildfire.
The BC Wildfire Service says cooler weather and moderate humidity helped crews battle the blaze on Saturday.
Those conditions are expected to continue Sunday.
The BCWS explains that parts of the fire burning in higher elevations continue to be wind driven which contributed to the larger size estimate on Saturday.
However, the fire has run into areas with green fuels which means the moisture content in the trees is preventing ignition and spread.
A few planned ignitions that took place last week also contributed to the larger estimate.
The fire located about 21 kilometres southwest of Penticton is still estimated at 7,042 hectares.
Fortunately, fire behaviour along Highway 3A continues to be stable and no evacuation orders or alerts have been reissued by the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen.
There are 188 firefighters, 19 pieces of heavy equipment and 15 helicopters on site.
(UPDATE: Aug. 20 @ 7:20 am) – After about a week of no growth on the Keremeos Creek wildfire, the BC Wildfire Service says the fire is estimated at 7,042 hectares.
Although there was some wind in the area Friday, the agency says this didn’t contribute to the growth.
However, it did impact aircraft operations.
There is risk of thunderstorms for the area Saturday afternoon and into Sunday which will bring more wind.
“In many areas, forest fuels at high elevations are green and the moisture content is preventing ignition and spread,” explains an update from the BCWS.
“Dead and fallen trees continue to burn at high elevations, on steep slopes.”
Fortunately, the fire is stable along the western side of Highway 3A and all structure protection remains demobilized.
No new evacuation orders or alerts have been issued by the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen.
According to an update from the BCWS posted late Friday night, there are 185 firefighters, 19 pieces of heavy equipment, 15 helicopters and 13 structure protection personnel on site.
Crews on the western flank are completing a 25 foot mop up, known as blacklining, and actioning hot spots identified on thermal aerial scans.
In the east, crews continue to mop up and patrol a 100-foot blackline along the fire's containment line. Crews from Sheep Creek Road to Yellow Lake continue to mop up and patrol.
The BCWS reminds residents that smoke will continue to be visible from Hwy 3A and surrounding communities, which is common with large wildfires.
The smoke will continue until there is a large amount of rainfall in the area.
(UPDATE: Aug. 17 @ 2:05 pm) – In an update provided by the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, all evacuation orders were rescinded effective at 2 pm on Aug. 17.
As of Wednesday, all residents, including 25 properties along Green Mountain Road and Sheep Creek Road, will be able to return home.
“Almost all evacuation alerts have been rescinded,” explains a news release for RDOS.
“Select properties along Green Mountain Road and Marron Valley Road remain on evacuation alert due to the Keremeos Creek wildfire, which is still active south of Green Mountain Road.”
The evacuation alert for Apex Mountain, Olalla, Farleigh Lake and Highway 3A have been fully rescinded.
BC Wildfire Service crews will remain active in the area, however.
Motorists are reminded to slow down and watch for crews and their equipment.
The Keremeos Creek wildfire does continue to burn but currently pose no threat to homes and residents have been directed by the BCWS to watch for fire activity outside of burnt areas.
According to an update provided Wednesday morning, the fire remains estimated at 6,950 hectares.
As residents return home, they can expect to see smoke and potential fire for several weeks within burnt areas.
Click here for more information on re-entry kits, garbage collection, mental health supports and contact information for the Emergency Operations Centre.
(UPDATE: Aug. 16 @ 5:39 pm) - While cooler temperatures and increased humidity reduced fire activity over the weekend, BCWS is reporting that fire behaviour is anticipated to ramp up once again with a warming and drying trend hitting the region this week.
Crews have been making good progress on containment lines and most sections of the fire remain stable.
A thermal aerial scan was completed last night and will continue into this evening to identify hot spots around the fire perimeter from McKay Creek to Olalla.
The Western flank remains the most active but is currently burning in steep and difficult terrain making it hard for crews to make any sort of direct attack.
This afternoon residents living at Apex Mountain Village were allowed to return home but will remain on an evacuation alert for the time being.
Structural protection personnel are in the process of removing systems from Apex, and water tenders will continue to restock relay tanks used for crews and fire suppression activities.
Nearby communities in the Northwest and Southwest can expect to see increased smoke within the fire's perimeter today, and smoke will continue to be visible until there is significant rainfall over the fire.
There are currently 272 firefighters, 27 structure protection personnel, a liaison from the Lower Similkameen Indian Band, 15 helicopters and 21 pieces of heavy equipment working on suppression efforts.
While Apex residents were removed from its evacuation order, 25 properties remain evacuated on Green Mountain and another 647 properties are still on an alert. More information can be found on the RDOS website.
At this time the cause of the Keremeos Creek wildfire remains unknown, up to date information can be found through Wildfires of Note here.
(UPDATE: Aug. 16 @ 11:35pm) - Residents at Apex Mountain Village will finally be able to return home for the first time in over two weeks.
An evacuation order was first put in place for those living at Apex on Aug. 1 due to the Keremeos Creek wildfire, and now that order has been rescinded.
The Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) made the announcement this morning, but warn’s residents that the order may be reissued if deemed necessary.
For now, residents heading home will remain on an evacuation alert and should be prepared to leave again if fire behaviour ramps up.
In the past 16 days, structure protection personnel have continued to maintain established structure protection systems and have been conducting FireSmart activities at Apex Mountain.
This includes moving wood piles and covering structures to reduce the potential of structure fires.
Those who are heading home will receive a ‘welcome back re-entry kit’, that includes information on Fortis contact information, drinking water safety, waste collection and much more.
People not a resident or property owner at Apex is asked to avoid the area during the re-entry process.
Nearby communities, like Apex, can expect to see smoke within the fire’s perimeters over the coming weeks which will continue to be visible until the area experiences a significant rainfall over the fire.
The Keremeos Creek wildfire is still burning just southwest of Penticton and evacuation orders remain in place for 25 properties on Green Mountain Road, Sheep Creek Road, and Highway 3A in Electoral Area I.
There are now 647 properties on an evacuation alert at Apex Mountain Village, Sheep Creek Road south and Highway 3A, Farliegh Lake and Maron Lake, north of Olalla, and Olalla.
Last weekend, Slackwater Brewing kicked off a fundraiser to support the Apex Fire Brigade which raised an impressive $15,00. That money will support the Apex Fire Brigade crew with any immediate supply needs and leftover cash will be put towards purchasing a wildland slip-on skid unit.
NowMedia will continue to update the story as more information is provided.
(UPDATE: Aug. 14 @ 7:23 am) – Due to more accurate mapping, the BC Wildfire Service says the Keremeos Creek wildfire is estimated at 6,948 hectares.
This is up from the estimate of 6,712 hectares that was reported on Thursday, Aug. 11.
The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen still has evacuation orders in place for 273 properties and 399 properties remain on evacuation alert.
However, despite the larger size of the fire, portions did receive between two and six millimetres of rain Friday night.
The BCWS says this has helped keep fire activity stable which has allowed for firefighters to do more direct attacks and progress on containment lines.
“A shift in wind direction could increase fire activity (on) August 14,” explains the agency in an update provided late Saturday night.
“Temperatures will begin to rise steadily as a ridge of high pressure settles over the province, Tuesday.”
The fire remains stable along Highway 3A and suppression efforts continue on the northwest flank of the fire, which is considered the most active area.
On all other flanks of the fire, crew members are continuing to build containment lines, action hotspots and monitor and reinforce structure protection equipment.
On Saturday, the number of firefighters and support staff was more or less the same as the past week. There were 241 firefighters on site with the support of 49 pieces of heavy equipment and 16 helicopters.
(UPDATE: Aug. 13 @ 12:20 pm) – Despite a severe thunderstorm Friday night, the BC Wildfire Service says the winds of the storm did not effect the Keremeos Creek wildfire.
It remains estimated at 6,712 hectares.
“Today, August 13, temperatures are expected to decrease to the mid-20s, and the humidity will be slightly higher than in recent days,” explains the agency.
“As a result, fire behaviour is expected to remain relatively stable.”
The agency is expecting winds to pick up across the province Saturday afternoon, however, which could lead to an increase in fire activity.
High winds are forecast across the province today. Wind can have impacts on fire behaviour.— BC Wildfire Service (@BCGovFireInfo) August 13, 2022
Higher wind speeds increase fire activity and windy conditions may change the direction of spread. Wind reduces moisture content in fuel, making fuels highly susceptible to ignition. pic.twitter.com/WLB7VXfIv0
There are 309 firefighters, 49 structure protection personnel, 45 pieces of heavy equipment and 16 helicopters on site today.
According to an update provided Saturday morning, the fire remains stable along the western side of Highway 3A and crews continue to mop up in the area.
The northwest section continues to be the most active and suppression efforts are challenged by steep terrain that is inaccessible to crews and heavy equipment.
Crews in this area continue to use direct attack methods where possible while establishing hand built fire guards.
On the southwest and northeast sections, crews continue to mop and patrol for hot spots.
Evacuation orders remain in place for 273 properties in the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen. Another 399 properties remain on evacuation alert.
(UPDATE: Aug. 12 @ 4:00 pm) - Despite hot and dry conditions yesterday, the Keremeos Creek wildfire hasn’t seen a significant increase in fire activity, and sits at an estimated 6,712.0 hectares.
BCWS is reporting that over the next two days, isolated showers or thunderstorms may occur which may increase fire behaviour, but overall remains stable along the eastern side of Highway 3A
As a result, Hwy 3A which has been closed since Aug. 4 was re-opened this morning to the public.
Drivers who plan to take the route are encouraged to be cautious, as crews will continue to work along the road. Some close calls two weeks ago with cars and BCWS staff was one of the reason the road was previously shut down.
“When travelling in a wildfire area, please slow down, always remain aware of your surroundings, and respect all signage posted along the route,” said the latest release from the BCWS.
Mop up on the Soutwest, Northwest and Northeast flanks continue and night pperations are continuing to monitor the fires edge up to the Olalla FSR for any spill over caused by rolling debris.
Fire personnel continue to maintain established structure protection systems at Apex Mountain and Green Mountain Road as they remain high priority areas.
At this time there are 309 Firefighters, 49 Structure Protection personnel, a liaison from the Lower Similkameen Indian Band, 16 helicopters and 44 pieces of heavy equipment.
Nearby communities are expected to see smoke within the fire's perimeter over the coming weeks, which is common with large wildfires, and smoke will continue to be visible until there is significant rainfall at the site.
Smoke appearing from well within the fire perimeter and burned material is common. However, smoke that rises from green, unburned fuel or from outside of fire's perimeter should be reported.
To report a wildfire or open burning violation, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone.
(UPDATE: Aug. 11 @ 10:29 am) – The Regional District of Okanagan–Similkameen (RDOS) has lifted another evacuation order associated with the Keremeos Creek wildfire.
Electoral Area G in Olalla has been downgraded to an evacuation alert as of 10 am.
Electoral Area I, containing about 273 properties, remains under evacuation order, along with Apex village and a portion of Green Mountain Road.
Hwy 3A remains closed, with only local traffic permitted.
Mounties are patrolling the area, RDOS warned.
"Checkpoints will remain in place to ensure only residents or property owners access the Olalla area," the district said.
"Firefighters will be active along Highway 3A to monitor spot fires and protect homes.
"Smoke may reduce visibility and residents are asked to slow down, drive carefully, and watch for crews and equipment."
To confirm whether a property is on evacuation order or alert, visit the RDOS interactive map.
The Keremeos Creek wildfire, meanwhile, is estimated to be about 6,712 hectares, or just over 67 square kilometres.
BC Wildfire Service said in its most recent update that is has 282 firefighters at the scene.
They are being supported by 16 helicopters and 45 pieces of equipment.
Also present are 51 structural protection personnel.
(UPDATE: Aug. 10 @ 10:30 am) – The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen has rescinded evacuation orders and alerts for a few select properties along Highway 3A.
An evacuation order has been rescinded for 54 properties from Twin Lakes to just north of Olalla.
This includes a few select properties along Sheep Creek Road.
All listed properties remain on evacuation alert, however.
The RDOS explains that Highway 3A will remain closed for through traffic.
According to a news release, the communities of Olalla, Apex and sections of Green Mountain Road remain on Evacuation Order.
Click here to view the RDOS interactive map that shows current evacuation orders and alerts.
An evacuation alert has also been rescinded for nearly 120 properties in the Twin Lakes area and along White Lake Road.
“An evacuation alert may need to be reissued; however, if that is deemed necessary, the evacuation order process will re-commence,” explains the RDOS.
People who remain on evacuation alert should ensure their vehicle has plenty of gas and prepare to bring at least three days of food and essential supplies such as medication or pet supplies.
If any animals or livestock have been relocated, residents can call these numbers arrange their return:
Animal Emergency Response Team – (250) 809-7152 for pet owners and hobby farmers
RDOS EOC – (250) 490-4225 for commercial farmers.
The RDOS says 493 properties in electoral areas G and I remain on evacuation order while 909 remain on evacuation alert.
(UPDATE: Aug. 10 @ 9:10 am) – The BC Wildfire Service is not reporting any growth on the Keremeos Creek wildfire in the latest update provided Wednesday morning.
The fire remains estimated at 6,836 hectares and there are 282 firefighters on site today.
Crews are supported by 145 structure protection personnel, 44 pieces of heavy equipment and 17 helicopters.
Although conditions remained favourable overnight, crews did experience some burning debris that continues to fall along Highway 3A. Crews were quick to action those runoffs of the fire.
Over the coming days and weeks, smoke from the interior of the #Keremeos Creek wildfire (K50863) will remain visible. Crews will continue to patrol and mop up the perimeter of the fire where containment has been established. #BCWildfire pic.twitter.com/CX3Y57ONMd— BC Wildfire Service (@BCGovFireInfo) August 10, 2022
The forecast for the rest of this week is expected to benefit crews as they continue with mop up, direct attack methods and building guards.
“With cooler temperatures, higher humidity and light and spotty precipitation, fire behaviour should be much more subdued today and remain so until drying conditions return, possibly after the weekend,” explains the BCWS.
“Today will be cloudy with spotty showers or thunderstorms beginning by afternoon. Dry lightning could move through the region today.”
Planned ignitions did not happen on Tuesday due to the effects of cooler conditions on target areas.
Control lines are holding well and the fire continues to grow slowly where it is not contained in more inaccessible areas, adds the agency.
Crews will be focusing on completing mop-up operations in the “wildland-urban interface” to ensure the safe return of residents to their homes.
Evacuations orders and alerts issued by the Regional District of the Okanagan-Similkameen remain in effect. For more information, click here.
(UPDATE: Aug. 9 @ 5:35 am) – The BC Wildfire Service has updated its estimate of the size of the Keremeos Creek wildfire to 6,836 hectares.
The growth is due to planned ignitions carried out over the last few days.
A map of the fire's new perimeter is available here.
According to BCWS's latest update, there are 245 firefighters tackling the fire.
They are supported by:
According to Environment Canada, there is a chance of rain in the area on Tuesday afternoon and evening.
(UPDATE: Aug. 8 @ 3:45 pm) – Crews on the Keremeos Creek wildfire experienced good conditions for working over the weekend, according to the latest regional district update.
“Aside from the heat and the dryness, it was a really good weekend for working,” said Bryan Zandberg, fire information officer with the BC Wildfire Service.
“We’re making really good gains, in terms of containment lines around this fire.”
As of Monday afternoon, the fire remains estimated at 5,903 hectares.
There are over 400 firefighters, 44 pieces of heavy equipment and 16 helicopter on site.
Zandberg confirmed planned burns would be happening Monday afternoon and Tuesday.
Crews have been able to make “good strides” and have connected several sections of guard to support these planned burns.
Fire activity remains stable and quiet near Highway 3A, Twin Lakes and towards Olalla.
Zandberg added that there hasn’t been a lot of growth near Apex Mountain and pointed to the “novel” water relay system crews have set up to protect the resort of the village.
“It’s in a stable place and we just have our fingers crossed that we can pinch the fire off in that corner before it has a chance to take a run towards the resort,” he said.
Evacuation orders remain in place for 547 properties and over 1,050 properties are on evacuation alert.
“I have seen people trying to get in and being quite belligerent, and it’s not happening all the time but it has happened. It can just really draw down on the work that we’re trying to do,” stated Zandberg.
“With all that said, please do just comply, please trust that we’re mindful and empathetic with the hardships people are going through and doing everything in our power to get people back into their homes.”
(UPDATE: Aug. 8 @ 7:10 am) – Sunday afternoon's planned ignitions at the Keremeos Creek blaze were a success, BC Wildfire Service has said.
The agency said crews remained at the fire overnight to patrol and mop up.
"Crews successfully brought the fire's edge from difficult to access terrain down to workable control lines," BCWS explained.
It added: "The fire remains within control lines above the Olalla and Sheep Creek areas where the burns were completed."
The fire is still estimated to be about 5,903 hectares.
In its last update on Sunday, BCWS said it had 213 firefighters assigned to the fire.
They are being supported by 16 helicopters and 43 pieces of heavy equipment.
There are also 168 structure protection personnel at the scene.
(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.
On August 2, crews conducted planned ignitions on the Keremeos Creek wildfire (K50863). Ignitions Specialist and Fire Behaviour Analyst, Mike Morrow, describes in the video below the successful burn operation. #BCWildfire pic.twitter.com/dwxcacqAzk— BC Wildfire Service (@BCGovFireInfo) August 7, 2022
“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.
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.
(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.
UPDATE: An inversion has been in place over the Keremeos Creek (K50863) wildfire throughout the morning and is expected to continue into the afternoon. This inversion is contributing to the heavy smoke in the valley for the Olalla and Marsel Creek areas. #Penticton #BCWildfire pic.twitter.com/r06WSZaEwz— BC Wildfire Service (@BCGovFireInfo) August 5, 2022
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.
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.
(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.
The RDOS Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) in conjunction with the Village of Keremeos has issued Evacuation ALERTS due to the Keremeos Creek wildfire for areas of Electoral Area 'G' south of Olalla and areas of the Village of Keremeos. https://t.co/oOQyeFdVE8 pic.twitter.com/yDwfLvyfVM— RDOS EOC (@EmergMgtRDOS) August 5, 2022
(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.
EOC Update: Keremeos Creek wildfire live video update August 4, 2022, 2:00 pm. Watch on YouTube: https://t.co/0rOTolwngY Info Release: https://t.co/0QGtcsKJqz @BCGovFireInfo pic.twitter.com/qTt7Un3lSh— RDOS EOC (@EmergMgtRDOS) August 4, 2022
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.
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.
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.
“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.
This morning, a planned ignition was going to be used as a response tactic on the Keremeos Creek fire (K50863).— BC Wildfire Service (@BCGovFireInfo) August 2, 2022
However at this time, no planned ignition will take place on the southern flank of the fire along Highway 3A as planned. #BCHwy3A
(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.
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."
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.
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.
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.”
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.
“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.
We continue to respond to the Keremeos Creek wildfire (K50863) located southwest of Penticton. Today the wildfire displayed aggressive and erratic fire behaviour, and is now estimated to be 440ha. There are now 45 BC Wildfire Service personnel responding on the ground. pic.twitter.com/4CDa381kJb— BC Wildfire Service (@BCGovFireInfo) July 31, 2022
(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.
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.
The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen has issued an Evacuation Order for Green Mountain Road between Highway 3A to the south and Apex Mountain Road to the south and in the general vicinity of Ford Lake. For updates from the RDOS, please see here: https://t.co/fAWc11cSNI pic.twitter.com/zwVKbAQsU2— BC Wildfire Service (@BCGovFireInfo) July 30, 2022
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.
The BC Wildfire Service is responding to the Keremeos Creek wildfire (K50863) located approx. 21km southwest of Penticton. The wildfire is estimated to be 100ha. pic.twitter.com/G0x5nQsU0d— BC Wildfire Service (@BCGovFireInfo) July 30, 2022
(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.
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.