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BC Wildfire Service plans control burns to bring Okanagan wildfire in check

KEREMEOS, B.C. — Controlled burns are scheduled in the southern Okanagan region of British Columbia in a bid to bring a large blaze burning in the area back under control, the provincial wildfire service said Sunday.
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A Unit Crew conducts planned ignitions above Yellow Lake near Olalla in this recent handout photo.The BC Wildfire Service says planned ignitions are scheduled to enclose a fire burning in the southern Okanagan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-BC Wildfire Service

KEREMEOS, B.C. — Controlled burns are scheduled in the southern Okanagan region of British Columbia in a bid to bring a large blaze burning in the area back under control, the provincial wildfire service said Sunday. 

Information officer Mikhail Elsay said the planned burn will increase the perimeter of the fire, which is currently located about 21 kilometres southwest of Penticton, but will ultimately help contain the nearly 60-square-kilometre blaze.

"The fire size is going to grow because we're bringing fire to our control lines," he said in an interview Sunday.

Crews will ignite less than half a square kilometre area to bring the fire down to safe, workable ground, he said.  

A crew made up of 381 firefighters is working to contain the blaze, which is one of the eight wildfires of note in the province. A wildfire of note means it is highly visible or poses a potential threat to public safety. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen's emergency operations centre said more than 500 properties are under an evacuation order, while more than 1,000 more are under an evacuation alert.

Elsay said the region has been much hotter and drier over the past few days, which will increase fire activity, but calmer wind conditions should help firefighters with their efforts. 

Crews are making "very good progress" and the next 24 to 48 hours are going to be a good window to make ground on this fire, he said.

"Last night was very calm and we're hoping that it'll continue to stay calm in the overnight periods," he said. "The evenings are much more stable over the last couple of days."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 7, 2022.

The Canadian Press