NEWS/ WILDFIRES — There was good news on the B.C. wildfire front today as an evacuation order was removed for the massive Red Deer Creek fire zone 61 km southeast of Tumbler Ridge, and crews reported good progress on the Smith Creek fire in West Kelowna.
The fire has burned 34,852 hectares and is only about 10 per cent contained but rain has reduced its intensity and allowed crews to make progress on suppressing it. They were continuing to build guards and were mopping up the fire perimeter, the Wildfire Management Branch said.
The evacuation order for oil and gas camps has been rescinded but access to the evacuation area is restricted.
There was also some good news in the battle against the Smith Creek fire in West Kelowna, where the Wildfire Management Branch reports excellent progress made by ground crews, heavy equipment and aerial operations yesterday that brought containment up to 60 per cent. The fire remains at about 260 hectares in size.
Evacuation orders for most areas were rescinded Sunday but a Restricted Area Order remains in place for the evacuation order area and the public is not permitted on Crown Land surrounding the fire, including various roads and trails.
The evacuation order was still on for 80 properties above Smith Creek as of 3 p.m. today (Monday). Only two of those properties are occupied, however.
The Emergency Support Services centre at Mount Boucherie Senior Secondary school will close at 6 p.m. today, Monday, and the Emergency Operation Centre is standing down.
The Regional District of Central Okanagan cautioned that the fire remains active and that the 2,500 residents who have returned home have to be prepared to leave on short notice.
“The public must stay out of fire-affected areas for their own safety and obey all warning and hazards signs,” said the district.
Resources on the fire today included five helicopters, two dozers, two water tenders, 80 firefighters and 31 support personnel.