Evacuation orders, state of emergency in place over wildfire burning near Osoyoos, B.C.
VANCOUVER -- A B.C. wildfire that flared up late afternoon Monday has led to evacuation orders and a local state of emergency.
The Nk'Mip Creek fire, previously referrred to as the Inkaneep Creek wildfire, broke out six kilometres north of Osoyoos and is classified as out-of-control. As of Tuesday morning the fire was estimated to be 1,100 hectares in size.
“The fire was quite active for our crews overnight. It was primarily driven by winds as we saw steady winds on site yesterday, and we are expecting to see them again today. So crews will be challenged with those winds today,” said Taylor MacDonald, a fire information officer with the BC Wildfire Service.
A wide tunnel of grey smoke could be seen billowing into the sky and ash was raining down on cars and in backyards, video and photos taken by residents showed.
The fire is near Inkaneep Road, which the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen Emergency Services said is within Osoyoos Indian Band jurisdiction.
Shortly before 7:30 p.m., the Osoyoos Indian Band issued an evacuation order for nearly 200 properties. Residents were told to leave the area immediately and register as an evacuee in Oliver.
Later that evening, the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen ordered evacuations at about 60 more properties.
Dozens more in the district are under evacuation alert.
"An evacuation alert prepares residents to evacuate the area should an evacuation order be issued. As much advance notice as possible will be provided prior to an evacuation order, however you may receive limited notice due to changing conditions," a statement from the RDOS said.
"BC Wildfire Service, the RDOS and the Town of Oliver are actively assessing the situation and should conditions deteriorate, evacuation orders may be issued."
A state of emergency in the RDOS, specifically for Electoral Area C, will be in place for seven days or unless revoked earlier.
Monday night, thousands of residents in the Osoyoos and Oliver area lost power around 5 p.m., at the request of fire officials.
“Our crews are in Oliver and Osoyoos supporting local emergency services. At their request we've interrupted power to about 3,000 customers due to a wildfire in the vicinity. We'll restore service once the fire department deems it is safe to do so,” said a tweet from Fortis BC.
Most power was restored later that evening, though the company said about 30 customers' power wouldn't return until Tuesday.
Twelve firefighters and five helicopters have been deployed to the area so far.
“We will see our resource numbers increase today throughout the day. I don't know by how much at this time but we are expecting to see more resources on site both aerial resources and ground personnel,” said MacDonald.
As of Tuesday morning, there are 293 active wildfires in the province.