Okanagan evacuations ordered as lightning-caused wildfires flare


Wildfire activity in the Okanagan on Wednesday evening. Photo BC Wildfire Service

Evacuation orders and alerts have been issued by two regional districts in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley as wildfires flare following lightning storms and several days of withering heat.

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen declared a state of local emergency and issued two evacuation orders overnight for a total of 43 properties, several campgrounds and a provincial park along Highway 97 between Summerland and Peachland.

Those orders are in addition to evacuations issued Wednesday by the Central Okanagan Regional District for properties just north of that area along the west side of Okanagan Lake, south of Peachland.

The BC Wildfire Service says the lightning-caused Mount Eneas wildfire has scorched about two-square kilometres of bush in steep terrain about four kilometres south of Peachland.

Evacuees are being directed to reception centres in West Kelowna and Penticton and Drive BC says although Highway 97 was closed by the fire overnight, the route has reopened to single lane alternating traffic, with an RCMP escort.

An evacuation alert is also posted for a second wildfire, the Good Creek blaze, estimated at about two-square kilometres, burning across Okanagan Lake, in Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park just outside the southern limits of the City of Kelowna.

The wildfire service said Wednesday that almost three dozen new fires had been sparked following a powerful storm and nearly 1,000 lightning strikes.

In all, the wildfire service lists 11 blazes of note, with nine, including the Mount Eneas and Good Creek fires, in the Kamloops Fire Centre and two in the Prince George Fire Centre, including an 80-hectare fire northwest of Vanderhoof that has prompted an evacuation alert.

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