Update: Firefighters battling fire on West Bench

Penticton Fire Department was called to a fire on Thursday morning

Update: 12:19 p.m.

Fire Chief Larry Watkinson reports that crews are still working on the fire and hotspots, but it is now 100 per cent contained.

Residents will be allowed back into their homes in the next couple of hours, and the Penticton Fire Department will be monitoring the fire overnight.

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Update: 11:17 a.m.

The fire is 60 per cent contained and no longer spreading, according to Justine Hunse, fire information officer for the B.C. Wildfire Service.

Hunse said the West Bench fire covered about .5 hectare, and Wildfire Service ground crews responded alongside the Penticton Fire Department and other area fire departments. At least one helicopter was supplied for air support.

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Update: 10:47 a.m.

Cameron Baughen, spokesperson for the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, said they have little information about the extent of the evacuation right now.

“We haven’t been asked to set up an official local government evacuation area,” he said. “We are waiting for more information from the incident command and they are the ones responsible for dealing with these tactical evacuations.”

Baughen said they are asking anyone evacuated to contact the evacuation centre at the Penticton Community Centre, either in person or at 250-328-2702.

“They can come down there and they can register through Emergency Support Services at any time,” said Baughen.

Baughen cautions that number is for registration only, that the volunteers don’t have any information on the progress of fires. That can be obtained through bc.wildfire.ca.

“We are asking that just the people directly affected by this event contact that number,” said Baughen.

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Update 10:21 a.m.

City of Penticton CAO Peter Weeber said two homes have been affected by the blaze and they appear to be roof fires.

He did not know how many people have been removed from the area in a “tactical evacuation.” Weeber said anyone in the working area of the fire has been evacuated and they are currently not sending people to the wildfire reception centre right now.

Although the fire is in the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen jurisdiction Weeber said it is all hands on deck to fight it.

“It’s not a jurisdictional matter, the community is at risk. We have everybody up there,” said Weeber

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Update: 10:08 a.m.

Peter Weeber, Penticton’s chief administrative officer is observing the fire, and said it looks like it may be coming under control.

“We are on top of it. We’ve got crews going crazy up there,” he said. “Hopefully we will get it under control, the smoke is dropping quickly.”

Weeber confirmed that homes had been evacuated, but wasn’t sure how many people were affected.

B.C. Wildfire could not provide any information at this time, however air support was spotted on the scene.

Western News reporter Dustin Godfrey confirmed that firefighters were working on a spot fire located on the roof of a house.

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Firefighters are battling a fire in the West Bench area.

Around 9:15 a.m. Penticton fire department was called to Westwood Drive.

The Penticton Western News reporter on site said that RCMP are evacuating all of Westwood Drive. The City of Penticton said there have been tactical evacuations in the area.

More on this to come.

 

Firefighters were working on a spot fire found on a roof of a house. Dustin Godfrey/Western News

Penticton firefighters are on the scene of a grass fire in the West Bench area that is growing rapidly. (Dustin Godfrey/Western News)

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