Residents of Osoyoos, B.C., heading home after harrowing fire fight

Residents of Osoyoos, B.C., heading home after harrowing fire fight
The Osoyoos fire is seen burning across the lake in Osoyoos, B.C., in a Saturday, July 29, 2023, handout photo.

Residents of Osoyoos have been returning home after the lifting of most evacuation orders on the southern British Columbia town that had been threatened over the weekend by a wildfire that jumped the United States border.

But most of the community remains under evacuation alert and must be ready to leave at short notice because of the Eagle Bluff fire that came close to engulfing the town as it roared down surrounding hills on Saturday night, before a wind shift turned the tide for firefighters.

BC Wildfire Service spokeswoman Shaelee Stearns says the reins in the fight against the Eagle Bluff fire are being transitioned to a new management team that will be in constant contact with U.S. counterparts.

The fire has scorched more than 14 square kilometres on the B.C. side of the border and 40 square kilometres on the U.S. side, where it has destroyed several structures.

More than 700 properties were ordered evacuated Saturday evening but the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen announced Monday that residents were being allowed to return to most of those residences.

There are still 192 properties under evacuation order, while 2,632 are under evacuation alert, representing most of the community of about 5,000 people.

The service says there were 361 active wildfires in British Columbia late Monday, with 198 out of control and 13 fires of note that are either highly visible or pose potential threats to public safety.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 1, 2023.

The Canadian PressThe Canadian Press

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