Wildfire southwest of Penticton jumps road, properties evacuated

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The Keremeos Creek wildfire southwest of Penticton, British Columbia, intensified overnight and jumped a road, with dozens of properties under evacuation orders after starting on Friday.

It is one of a large number of fires that have erupted across the province after a week of extreme temperatures. Of the 70 active wildfires in British Columbia, 43 have started in the past two days.

The wildfire near Penticton is now burning over an area of ​​1.5 square kilometers, up 50% from Friday evening. Most of the growth was seen after the fire jumped east on Green Mountain Road, according to the BC Wildfire Service.

Residents of 21 properties near Green Mountain Road have been ordered to leave by the Okanagan-Similkameen Regional District, along with 25 other on evacuation alert from 11:30 a.m. Saturday.

“We will continue to see hot and dry conditions over the next few days as this wildfire unfolds,” said Aydan Coray, a fire information officer. “Although the fuels have been dry, they will continue to dry out as we see [relative humidity] decrease further, and the hot, dry weather continues.”

Coray said it’s difficult to predict where the fire will grow and whether it will move to Penticton, given the volatility of the situation. She said structure protection officers remain at the scene.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined. It is currently burning 21 km southwest of the town of Penticton, located in the southern interior of British Columbia.

The fire near Lytton continues to burn

The Keremeos Creek wildfire is the second “significant fire” in British Columbia, meaning it is particularly visible or poses a threat to public safety.

The first of the season, the Nohomin Creek Fire northwest of Lytton, continues to burn over an area of ​​29.1 square kilometers after starting on July 14. Lytton was virtually destroyed by a raging wildfire just over a year ago.

The Nohomin Creek fire ordered nearly 100 people to leave their homes and at least 10 structures were destroyed. Some of the evacuation orders issued by local authorities have been downgraded, but many remain in place on Saturday.

Karley Desrosiers, a fire information officer, said significant growth is not expected for the blaze due to suppression efforts, but fire activity is still seen on the northwest flank of the fire.

“We are seeing an expected drop in humidity today [Saturday] compared to yesterday,” she said. “It will likely influence the behavior of the fire and it could be more active than yesterday, but that’s not unexpected.”

The Nohomin Creek Wildfire burns on the west side of Lytton on July 15. The Forest Fire Department said growth is only likely on the northwest flank of the fire. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

The fire also caused the closing from the nearby Stein Valley Nlaka’pamux Heritage Park. Without a sustained cooling trend, Desrosiers says the fire is likely to continue burning.

“I would say the biggest challenge right now, here and elsewhere, is the heat,” she said.

Thousands of thunderbolts

According to the Forest Fire Department, the province has seen nearly 4,000 lightning strikes over the past two days, most of them indoors.

Currently, 45% of wildfires in British Columbia this season have been started by lightning, 48% of which are due to human activity. Most of the province is at a “high” fire danger level from Saturday.

Although open fire bans are in place across the province, small campfires are still permitted, which means keeping fires under half a meter high and wide, and keeping fires water or a nearby tool to keep them under control.

Fire Information Officer Jean Strong said Friday it was unusual not to have a campfire ban in place so late in the summer. Fire stations are closely monitoring the situation, Strong said, and a ban could be put in place if conditions change in the coming weeks.

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