Vancouver, July 31: A wildfire in the South Okanagan is rapidly growing, forcing people out of their homes Saturday.
An evacuation order has been issued by the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen for 25 properties on Green Mountain Road — which is about 21 kilometres southwest of Penticton — and 357 other properties in the Apex area are on evacuation alert.
“It can be very disconcerting,” said Erick Thompson, an information officer for the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen’s emergency operations centre.
We continue to respond to the Keremeos Creek wildfire (K50863) located southwest of Penticton. Today the wildfire displayed aggressive and erratic fire behaviour, and is now estimated to be 440ha. There are now 45 BC Wildfire Service personnel responding on the ground. pic.twitter.com/4CDa381kJb
— BC Wildfire Service (@BCGovFireInfo) July 31, 2022
“It’s important to have a plan in place if you do have to leave your property, certainly if you feel threatened and there isn’t an evacuation order or alert in place. You should be prepared to move to a different area. And do that sooner rather than later,” he added.Kamloops fire centre manager Kaitlyn Baskerville says while it might be challenging to leave behind your property and belongings, it’s the safest thing to do right now.
“It’s not necessarily just about your property. It’s also about the community around you and doing what’s right and keeping our crews safe as well,” she said.
The Keremeos Creek fire was discovered Friday, and one structure has already been destroyed.
A smoky skies bulletin has also been issued for the South Okanagan.
“Wildfire smoke is a natural part of our environment but it is important to be mindful that exposure to smoke may affect your health,” reads the bulletin.
“People with pre-existing health conditions, respiratory infections such as COVID-19, older adults, pregnant women and infants, children, and sensitive individuals are more likely to experience health effects from smoke exposure,” it continued.
Officials urge nearby residents to keep checking for updates as the situation is rapidly changing.
“We’ve been here before. I don’t think there’s reason to be concerned as of yet. We’re continuing to analyze the situation once there is enough justification to recommend an alert or order,” said Baskerville.