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Warmer weather bringing increased fire activity to West Kelowna blaze

Crews are experiencing ‘crossover conditions’, which increased fire behaviour
The McDougall Creek wildfire in West Kelowna has been burning since Tuesday, Aug. 15. (BC Wildfire Service)

Higher temperatures and a stronger ridge of high pressure are causing increased fire conditions at the McDougall Creek wildfire.

Firefighting crews are experiencing what is referred to as ‘crossover conditions’, which is when the relative humidity is less than or equal to the temperature, which is an indicator of extreme burning conditions. Because of this, smoke might become more visible.

These conditions are expected to continue throughout the weekend and make their way southeast but shouldn’t make it to the inland.

On Sunday, BC Wildfire Service is expecting the hottest, driest, and windiest conditions of the weekend.

Earlier this week, fire crews executed an 146-hectare planned ignition in the Hidden Creek area. On Saturday, crews remain in the area conducting small scale hand ignitions to remove any unburned fuel. They are also taking care of any hot spots that arise.

At this time, the wildfire continues to be the most active above the Powers Creek drainage located near the Glenrosa neighbourhood of West Kelowna.

BC Wildfire Service has also extended an area restriction order until Friday, Sept. 15, or until rescinded.

They would like to remind the public that nobody is allowed in the area restriction/evacuation order zone. Members of the public continue to be found along Jack Pine Forest Service Road as they attempt to access properties by boat along Okanagan Lake. This weekend, the Kelowna RCMP are increasing their crews in enforcement areas and on Okanagan Lake as boats are required to stay off the water north of the William R. Bennett Bridge to Fintry Provincial Park.

For the foreseeable future, Kelowna RCMP and conservation officers will remain on the scene to continue to enforce the area restriction order. Anyone found in the area is subject to a $1,150 fine.

The order is in place for many reasons including:

•Heavy equipment and chainsaw operators: Heavy equipment and chainsaw operators can’t hear or see you when operating equipment;

•Ash pits: Deep, intensely burning stumps and tree roots may result in hot ash pits underground that can lead to severe burns if you step or fall into one;

•Falling trees: Drought and burnt-out tree roots cause unstable trees that may fall at any time, especially if it’s windy.

All evacuation orders and alerts remain the same at this time. Residents can look at the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations map.

In total, 405 properties remain under evacuation order and 12,303 on evacuation alert in the Central Okanagan.

Due to safety concerns, the temporary access for Bear Creek Road and Rose Valley North that was scheduled for Sept. 9 has been postponed.

The McDougall Creek wildfire remains at 13,712 hectares, but the size will increase as new mapping hasn’t occurred since Tuesday, Aug. 29. It is a wildfire of note.

Transport Canada and the BC Wildfire Service prohibit the use of drones of any size near a wildfire. The operation of any aircraft not associated with fire suppression activities within a radius of five nautical miles around a fire, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones), is illegal. Anyone found interfering with wildfire control efforts may face penalties of up to $100,000 and/or up to one year in jail.

READ MORE: ‘Not an easy ride’: Mounties turn the pedals on 10 day Okanagan excursion

READ MORE: Canada-wide drug smuggling operation taken down by Kelowna RCMP


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Jordy Cunningham

About the Author: Jordy Cunningham

Hailing from Ladner, B.C., I have been passionate about sports, especially baseball, since I was young. In 2018, I graduated from Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops with a Bachelor of Journalism degree
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