The White Rock Lake wildfire burns west of Vernon, B.C., Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021. The Kamloops region continues to see the majority of blazes, with the White Rock Lake fire continuing to burn out of control. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The White Rock Lake wildfire burns west of Vernon, B.C., Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021. The Kamloops region continues to see the majority of blazes, with the White Rock Lake fire continuing to burn out of control. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

UPDATE: Spallumcheen alert area shrinks as conditions cool on White Rock Lake wildfire

Operation set for northeast flank, depending on site, weather; could start as early as Wednesday

UPDATE MONDAY, Aug. 23, 3:43: p.m.

Cooler weather has the Township of Spallumcheen reducing its evacuation alert area.

Now, residences on the northside of the previous alert area, between Larkin Cross Road and Grandview Flats Road, are in the clear.

An evacuation alert remains in place for the following areas:

• Corkscrew Rd

• Evans Rd

• Golfview Place

• Grandview Flats Rd (south side)

• Grandview Flats Rd North

• Grandview Flats Rd South

• 9221 to 9728 Highway 97

• L&A Cross Rd

• Larkin Cross Rd (south side)

• Mendenhall Rd

• Miller Rd

• Northwind Drive

• 8400 Old Kamloops Rd

• Otter Lake Rd (632 Otter Lake Rd and lower)

• Overlook Pl

• Page Rd

• Pine Ridge Rd

• Round lake Rd

• St Anne’s Rd

• Stepping Stones Rd

• Stepping Stones Cres

UPDATED MONDAY, AUG. 23, 1:38 p.m.

The current evacuation order for 1,316 properties and alert for 850 properties remains unchanged in the North Westside community within the Regional District of Central Okanagan (RDCO).

BC Wildfire has said the weather is favourable towards firefighting, as temperatures continue to be cooler, but forecasted gusty winds could still increase fire activity.

“Another day passed yesterday without an incident, as all agencies continue their incredible hard work,” North Westside fire chief Alex Van Bruksvoort said.

“The Regional District of Central Okanagan and North Westside Fire Rescue continues to support the removal and feeding of pets and animals.”

The emergency operations centre (EOC) based in Kelowna has been calling residents whose properties were severely damaged by the fire.

“Residents whose properties are known to have suffered significant damage as a result of the fire are being offered a limited escorted bus visit throughout the day today (Aug. 23),” Central Okanagan Emergency Operations said in a statement.

A virtual town hall meeting for the owners of the approximately 70 properties damaged by the fire is planned for later in the week.

The Regional District of North Okanagan’s (RDNO) evacuation order is also still in effect.

UPDATED MONDAY, AUG. 23, 12:17 p.m.

The BC Wildfire Service has announced they are preparing to conduct a large-scale planned ignition operation on the northeast flank of the White Rock Lake wildfire.

The exact timing of this ignition will depend on weather and site conditions, but it could begin as early as Wednesday, Aug. 25. Significant planning, forecasting, and data analysis has been completed and will continue to be assessed prior to the ignition operation.

Due to steep and inaccessible terrain in this area of the fire, BC Wildfire Service personnel have determined that a planned ignition is the most favourable tactic to gain control while also maintaining an appropriate safety margin for firefighters. Over the past 72-hours, heavy equipment operators have been working to complete a machine guard along Irish Creek Road, working north towards Irish Creek and then west towards Six Mile Creek.

The ignition operation will be completed using a combination of hand and aerial ignitions to remove fuels that currently lie between the control line and the advancing fire. Ground crews and hose lay will be ready to patrol and monitor for any spotting across the constructed machine guard between Westside Road and Irish Creek.

With the current weather forecast, the BC Wildfire Service anticipates being able to conduct this operation as soon as Wednesday. If weather patterns shift drastically from what is expected, operational personnel will reassess alternative potential suppression options.

The planned ignition area is upwards of 3,000 hectares in size. During the ignition operations, significant amounts of smoke will be visible from nearby communities, including Vernon, Armstrong, Spallumcheen, Glennema, and Falkland. The ignitions will only occur under very specific site conditions and further updates will be provided prior to commencement.

Cooler weather and precipitation in some areas has helped wildfire crews with their efforts however the White Rock Lake fire remains close to Township of Spallumcheen borders. Residents should be prepared for quickly changing situations. The evacuation alert remains in place.

ORIGINAL

While cooler temperatures and some precipitation helped ease fire activity at the White Rock Lake wildfire, the BC Wildfire Service said it’s expecting activity to pick up again by this afternoon (Aug. 23).

The service said winds are expected to ease slightly compared to yesterday, but gusts will remain high throughout the day, blowing in from the northwest from 10 to 20 kilometres an hour.

“Fuels continue to dry, especially with recent elevated winds, and fire behaviour is expected to increase into the afternoon as winds pick up,” BC Wildfire Service said in an update.

On the fire’s eastern flank, the service said crews will continue to defend pre-established containment lines to protect communities and structures.

“Structure protection personnel are continuing to action hot spots and mop-up around impacted interface areas.”

“Heavy equipment has re-established a guard previously used on the Terrace Mountain fire (in 2009) and will have it tied into the pre-established guard at Stuart Lake by the end of the day today (Aug. 23).”

On the fire’s northeast flank, crews continue to use heavy equipment to build a guard from Irish Creek to Six Mile Creek, with the goal of finishing the containment line by the end of the day tomorrow (Aug. 24). Ground crews are also working on laying down a hose line along the control lines from Westside Road, working north towards Irish Creek road, holding the line between Irish Creek and McGregor Creek.

Aerial support continues to cool the area with water buckets to support heavy machinery and crews in the area.

On the fire’s north flank, crews continue mop-up from Biancott Lake north to Paxton Lake and then north to Highway 97.

“There continues to be no growth along all fire perimeters of the northern finger north of Highway 97 and down towards Woods Lake,” the service said.

“A unit crew continues work on a contingency fuel-free buffer zone from the west side of Pinaus Lake working south towards established containment lines.”

The fire’s west flank hasn’t seen growth over the past week but continues to be monitored by aerial resources. Crews are also still in the mop-up stage along the area. Heavy equipment is now starting construction on a contingency line around the Monte Creek area.

A 52-kilometre contingency guard has been set up around along the south flank, from Chapperon Lake moving east towards Fintry Park.

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twila.amato@blackpress.ca

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