A helicopter delivers water onto the White Rock Lake wildfire burning near Westwold on July 24, 2021. (BC Wildfire Services)

A helicopter delivers water onto the White Rock Lake wildfire burning near Westwold on July 24, 2021. (BC Wildfire Services)

UPDATE: Central Okanagan properties on evacuation alert as wildfire near Westwold grows

Increased fire activity expected today; planned burns continue to reinforce perimeter

UPDATE: 2:27 pm

The White Rock Lake wildfire has grown by 891 hectares by noon, Friday, said BC Wildfire Services and now, properties in the Central Okanagan have been placed on evacuation alert.

Now, the wildfire burning out of control near Westwold is affecting properties within four regional districts and the Okanagan Indian Band.

In a 2:36 p.m. update, the following properties in the Central Okanagan were placed on evacuation alert:

Crews are patrolling the machine guard built next to a powerline and working to extinguish any spots that cross the guard.

If conditions remain favourable, BCWS said it will continue planned ignitions along the southeast flank to bring the fire down to the Salmon River Forest Service Road using plastic sphere dispensers — golf-ball-sized plastic spheres that spark a chemical reaction and ignite after reaching the forest floor.

Smoky conditions continue to hinder aircraft use, challenging suppression efforts.

Original:

Smoke from the estimated 20,000-hectare out-of-control fire burning near Westwold is affecting hydro lines and knocking out power in some areas and they may continue, said BC Wildfire Services (BCWS) in a Friday morning update, July 30.

The smoke is also hindering the ability to use airtankers which is challenging suppression efforts.

On top of that, subtropical moisture may bring thunderstorms, strong winds and dry lightning, the provincial agency said.

Elevated fire behaviour is expected to continue due to the amount of fuel in the area and forecast weather conditions.

More than 100 firefighters, including support from Quebec, along with eight helicopters, 10 danger tree fallers, 38 pieces of heavy equipment, 23 support staff, three structural protection units and one crew and specialist and a BCWS Incident Management Team are assigned to the blaze.

Crews are working with industry partners to reinforce control liens while others are securing control lines using low-intensity hand ignitions to burn fuel northeast of the fire perimeter.

Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) said in an update that wildfire crews continue to allocate more resources to the fire after gaining an additional 15 support staff and two helicopters Thursday (July 29), including one of the largest in the fleet, the Skycrane.

All evacuation orders and alert will continue to remain in effect.

The fire has 20 properties in the Regional District of North Okanagan on evacuation order, along with 85 from Thompson-Nicola Regional District and one seasonal resort, eight seasonal dwellings, one seasonal property and two year-round residences within the Columbia-Shuswap Regional District.

Another estimated 1,220 properties across the three districts are on alert, ready to move at a moment’s notice.

An evacuation alert is also in effect for a portion of Okanagan Indian Band IR#1, from the southernmost boundary to Newport Beach, including Old Mill site, Parkers Cover, Whiteman’s Creek, 6 Mile and Komasket Park Area.

“Receiving an evacuation alert makes your guts clench no matter how prepared you think you are,” area resident Brenda Giesbrecht said.

“Tuktakamin Mountain immediately south of the townsite is bathed in smoke. It’s eerie… very little sound other than highway traffic — no bird song, no voices,” she said.

“It is like everyone is holding their breath, waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

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B.C. Wildfires 2021