The Eagle Bluff fire is now mapped at 1,500 hectares, with expanded evacuation alerts in the McKinney Creek area. (BC Wildfire Service)
By Lyonel Doherty
There’s an eerie calm over Oliver this morning as a thick blanket of smoke hides a beast of a fire that has grown to 1,500 hectares, prompting more evacuation alerts.
The regional district has added another 41 properties on alert in the McKinney Creek area, including McCuddy Creek Road, McKinney Road, Old Camp McKinney Road, Porcupine Place and Shrike Hill.
The Osoyoos Indian Band expanded its alerts to include Senkulmen Business Park and the Okanagan Correctional Centre. It was reported yesterday that some inmates were already transferred to other facilities, but the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General hasn’t confirmed that. It did confirm that if an evacuation order is announced, inmate transfer operations will commence.
• Read more: OCC, Jackson Triggs on evacuation alert as wildfire near Oliver continues to grow
It was a tense day for Gallagher Lake residents on Wednesday as fire debris tumbled off the bluff and ignited dry grass behind Country Pines Mobile Home Park. However, quick action by helicopters stopped the threat.
The Oliver Fire Department was called to assist. Immediately after that they were called to James Way, where the fire was fast approaching properties there.
“We let it burn to the dirt road which worked as a guard and then we knocked it down and kept it from going across the road.”
Graham said BC Forestry crews will be setting up camp at the fire department’s training grounds as more equipment and apparatus arrive.
If conditions are favorable today, #BCWildfire crews will be conducting another small scale planned ignition on the #EagleBluff wildfire from the southeast Mudd Lake area to the McKinney Road area, west of Manual Canyon. pic.twitter.com/Zzpl4IBJoP
— BC Wildfire Service (@BCGovFireInfo) August 8, 2019
BC Wildfire information officer Shannon Street said yesterday’s hand ignition burn south of Gallagher Lake was very successful in lessening the fuels in that area.
She noted that crews are preparing for another planned ignition operation from Mudd Lake south towards the McKinney Road area.
Street said there are 80 personnel on site today with another 80 on the way. Twenty personnel are working on the fire overnight.
There have been no reports of structures being immediately threatened, but structure protection crews have been deployed.
Nearly 20 pieces of heavy equipment are being utilized and up to 13 helicopters are dropping water on the blaze.
Street added they are expecting some wind today and possible thunder storms.
Smoke hangs over Oliver on Wednesday evening. (Vanessa Broadbent / Osoyoos Times)
As for the cause, she said crews are trying to determine the origin of the fire.
BC Wildfire previously stated the cause may have been human related.
Area C director Rick Knodel toured the fire area and witnessed the blaze moving into a “much more dangerous phase” due to properties in its path. He noted a large number of residents on the east side of OIB lands are threatened.
“My thoughts and prayers go out to you.”
Knodel expressed his gratitude to forestry crews for their outstanding efforts. “They are truly the best in the world,” he said.
Area I director Subrina Monteith said there are residents in her area offering to house people and livestock if the need arises.