Despite cooler temperature and light rain overnight and earlier Monday, the Bear Creek wildfire has grown to an estimated at 52 hectares in size, according to Central Okanagan Emergency Services.
The lower overnight temperatures and the precipitation did help fire crews knock down the blaze, and 60 per cent is currently contained, but the weather is anticipated to change and that may pose some challenges.
“It’s currently a rank 1, which means it’s smouldering with some flame visible, but we’re expecting heat in the afternoon and lower relative humidity, so we may see some more rank 2 behaviour in the evening,” said Max BIrkner, a fire information officer with the Kamloops Fire Centre. Rank 2 behaviour means there will be more open, visible flame and a slow rate of speed.
Ground crews will remain on scene to keep it as under control as they can.
Air crews took to the sky Monday morning to fight the blaze, which one local radio station reported started with downed power lines Sunday evening after talking to the manager of the Bear Creek provincial campground. That is believed to have happened while the area suffered through a prolonged wicked wind storm that blasted through the Okanagan late Sunday afternoon and well into the evening.
The campground was evacuated, as were about 156 homes in the area.
The evacuation order, which remains in place, affects properties including the Bear Creek Provincial Park campground, Trader’s Cove subdivision, and properties along Bear Creek Road north of the Parkinson Road intersection including Dougmac, Rose Valley and Petterson Roads in West Kelowna.
Another 14 properties in the Pine Point subdivision off Westside Road, north of Traders Cove remain on Evacuation Alert. Those residents should be prepared to leave on short notice should conditions change.
About 60 people have registered at the emergency support services centres set up late Sunday at the Lions Hall, 2466 Main Street in Westbank. All evacuees are asked to register with the centre.
With air support form BC Wildfire service is on site, boaters on Okanagan Lake are asked to stay away from the fire area in and around Bear Creek.
Residents without power along Westside Road are asked to conserve water.
Westside Road is closed between Bear Creek Road and Pine Point subdivision.
Meanwhile, the Regional District of Central Okanagan has issued a precautionary water quality advisory for residents served by the Killiney Beach and Westshore water systems in the Central Okanagan West electoral area.
The advisory affects properties connected to the two separate community water systems servicing the subdivisions off Westside Road.
CORD said the reservoirs used for the water systems are not able to be replenished as they would normally because of the power situation.
Because of the ongoing power outages related to the Bear Creek fire, water quality may be compromised and that could impact children, the elderly or those with weakened immune systems, said the regional district Monday.
Roadside signs are in place to advise residents of the precautionary water quality advisory.
“Interior Health has been contacted and while the health risk is modest and no bacteria have been found in any of the water tested from the systems, regional district staff recommends that as a precaution that Killiney Beach and Westshore water customers follow Interior Health guidelines, especially for those with weakened immune systems, the elderly, children and those wishing additional precautions,” said CORD spokesman Bruce Smith.
“All water intended for drinking, washing fruit and vegetables, making beverages, ice or brushing teeth should be boiled for at least one minute or customers should use a safe alternative to water from the tap such as bottled or distilled water.”
This precautionary water quality advisory affecting the systems will continue until further notice.
To subscribe online for Regional District water quality advisories or alerts by email visit regionaldistrict.com/water.
For a map of the evacuation order and alert areas. Specific addresses can be searched to determine if the properties are on evacuation alert or order.