Hundreds of houses in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley’s southern point have been asked to evacuate after a wildfire that started Monday afternoon expanded rapidly in size within hours. Fire authorities in the area have warned that further evacuation orders and alarms are likely.
The Inkaneep Creek wildfire is burning on Osoyoos Indian Band territory between the cities of Oliver and Osoyoos, roughly 40 kilometers south of Penticton. Over the span of a few hours Monday afternoon, it expanded from three hectares to more than 300 hectares. It was 700 hectares as of 9 p.m. PT. Crews will stay on the scene overnight.
The Oliver–Osoyoos region is well-known for its wines and is a popular tourist attraction. The Osoyoos Indian Band issued the first evacuation order, which affected almost 200 houses, on Monday evening.
The Oliver Fire Department was able to preserve the residences closest to the fire, according to Chief Clarence Louie of the Osoyoos Indian Band. He stated that members of the band who were evacuated are now living in motels in the Oliver-Osoyoos area. Some people have opted to remain at home.
Due to the blaze, almost 3,000 customers in the region lost power for several hours on Monday evening. According to FortisBC, the outage was planned to help local emergency services in Oliver and Osoyoos. Meanwhile, the Okanagan-Similkameen Regional District has issued a local state of emergency. Martin Johansen, the mayor of Oliver, said the town, which has a population of about 5,000 people, has also issued a local state of emergency.
The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen issued an evacuation order for several dozen houses east of the wildfire late Monday evening. To assist individuals in evacuating, the RCMP and Search and Rescue teams have been dispatched.
Members from the Osoyoos and Oliver RCMP detachments are going door to door, working with the band to ensure inhabitants evacuate their properties, said Dawn Roberts, a B.C. RCMP spokesman. In addition to the order, several dozen houses in the region, as well as within the town of Oliver, are on evacuation notice, and residents are being advised to prepare to evacuate if an order is issued.