Canadian Underwriter

Wildfires prompt evacuations on outskirts of Penticton, B.C.

July 20, 2017   by THE CANADIAN PRESS

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PENTICTON, B.C. – Residents of a rural area on the outskirts of Penticton, B.C., on Thursday joined the more than 45,000 people in British Columbia who have fled their homes due to fast-moving fires.

The blaze broke out around 9 a.m. in the West Bench suburb and first responders swiftly conducted evacuations of homes threatened by the flames, said Peter Weeber, chief administrative officer for the city.

“There were a couple homes impacted, just roofs at this point, we haven’t lost any structures from what I understand,” said Weeber.

The wildfire has scorched more than 12 square kilometres of bush near 100 Mile House, B.C. Credit: @BCGovFireInfo.

He said a helicopter was assisting local and regional fire crews to extinguish the flames.

Officials did not yet have an exact number of residents who had been forced to flee, but Mark Woods of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen said at least two or three streets were evacuated.

Cameron Baughen, also with the district, said once officials receive more information from first responders, they will decide whether to issue a broader evacuation order or alert.

“It’s an interface fire, which is, for us, very concerning because it then affects homes,” he said.

Baughen said the fire was in an area between West Bench and Husula Highlands, impacting undeveloped areas of the Penticton Indian Band lands as well as developed areas in the district.

The city said in a statement that the fire was being managed effectively and had not spread beyond the current area.

The forecast calls for rain in some parts of British Columbia, but about 140 fires are still burning in the province.

Officials in one of the regions hardest-hit by the wildfires, the Cariboo Regional District, said Wednesday that 41 homes had been lost.

Another eight homes were confirmed lost in the Central Okanagan region last weekend and almost three dozen trailers were destroyed when fire raced through the Boston Flats trailer park next to Cache Creek, B.C.