Canadian Underwriter

Evacuation orders and alerts expanded as wildfires spread

July 22, 2018   by The Canadian Press

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SUMMERLAND, B.C. – Evacuation orders and alerts have been expanded as several wildfires in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley chew through bush and timber.

A 10-square-kilometre blaze burning just south of Peachland on the west side of Okanagan Lake prompted an evacuation order for three more properties late Thursday night.

Traffic is stopped along shore line of Highway 97 heading towards Summerland B.C. on Thursday, July 18, 2018. Evacuation orders and alerts have been issued in parts of British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley after a cluster of wildfires broke out following a fierce lightning storm that swept across the southern Interior. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff Bassett

Those evacuations are in addition to similar orders issued Wednesday and Thursday by the regional districts of Central Okanagan and Okanagan-Similkameen as the Mount Eneas blaze grew aggressively, sparked by a lightning storm earlier in the week.

A state of local emergency was declared by the Central Okanagan Regional District Thursday night and further evacuation alerts were issued for 596 properties in Peachland, while flames continue to force the intermittent closure of Highway 97 between Peachland and Summerland.

A separate fire, six kilometres southwest of West Kelowna, covers eight hectares but has the potential to threaten property, so the regional district placed nearly 200 homes in the Upper Glenrosa neighbourhood on alert, early today.

The BC Wildfire Service says 22 new fires have been sparked in the Okanagan in the last 24 hours and more than 100 are burning across B.C., including separate fires northwest of Vanderhoof and just outside Cranbrook that have prompted evacuation alerts for several properties.