Hundreds of residents in British Columbia’s southern Okanagan are out of their homes and thousands more must be ready to leave on short notice as a nearby wildfire grows in size.
The blaze broke out Tuesday afternoon on the east side of Skaha Lake southeast of Penticton and grew from 250 hectares to about 10 square kilometres – or 1,000 hectares – in just a few hours.
The fire, which is located on Christie Mountain, rapidly ignited the mountainside above multiple neighbourhoods near Okanagan Falls.
The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen ordered residents of 319 homes in the Heritage Hills area to leave immediately.
Brad Gray, a resident of Victoria, was on vacation in Penticton and able to capture the massive blaze from afar.
Footage of a wildfire burning in Penticton that has put thousands on evacuation notice, after it grew from 250 hectares to over 1,000 hectares in just a few hours
🎥: Brad Gray of Victoria pic.twitter.com/w6d4aFk4DO
— CHEK News (@CHEK_News) August 19, 2020
The City of Penticton then issued an evacuation alert for nearly 3,700 properties on its southeast side, closest to Skaha Lake.
The regional district has also posted evacuation alerts for 116 properties in the Upper Carmi area east of Penticton and Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park just south of the city.
According to BC Wildfire Service, 21 firefighters remained on location overnight in order to construct control lines. Additional resources are said to be arriving on-site throughout the day on Wednesday.
BC Wildfire Services estimated that the fire was just over 10 hectares shortly after 5 p.m. on Tuesday.
The #BCWildfire Service is responding to the Christie Mountain wildfire (K51287) located approximately 6 km N of Okanagan Falls on the east side of Skaha lake. It is estimated at ten hectares in size. BCWS personnel are on site and are being supported by air tankers (1/4). pic.twitter.com/ly2nwKc0ck
— BC Wildfire Service (@BCGovFireInfo) August 19, 2020
Nearly 100 wildfires have ignited in B.C. following a Sunday night thunderstorm and withering heatwave that has gripped the southern part of the province for days.
Several fires on Vancouver Island, which were labelled out of control as of Tuesday, have been reduced in size as crews continue work around the province.
The biggest fire on the Island is now located at Meade Creek and sits at 7 hectares.
With files to Canadian Press.