Update: Snowy Mountain fire evac alert expands to ranch land near Keremeos

As of Wednesday late afternoon Snowy Mountain fire has grown to 6,594 hectares in size.

Image taken in Keremeos and contributed by Pat Tracey.

Update 8 p.m.

Ranchers near the Snowy Mountain Fire are being urged to bring in their cattle as soon as possible.

An expanded evacuation alert issued by the Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen Wednesday night included all Crown Land west of Highway 3 to the U.S. border in Area B, and the Snowy Protected Area.

The expanded area does not include any additional homes or private property.

(RDOS)

“The Snowy Mountain wildfire has the potential to move south limiting the ability to get animals out,” a release from the RDOS stated.

ALERT Canada assists with animals, including pets and livestock, in the event of an emergency. The Desert Park Race Track in Osoyoos can stable horses and livestock as needed. For information on evacuating pets or livestock, ALERT can be contacted at 250-809-7152 or visit their webpage by clicking here.

Update: 6 p.m.

The Snowy Mountain Fire continued to grow during the day Wednesday with the last update listing the wildfire at 6,594 hectares in size.

Despite several days of actioning by BC Wildfire Service, it is still considered zero per cent contained.

“Fire behaviour was extremely active on July 31st and into the overnight period, and was burning Rank 5 in some areas. The fire behaviour was wind driven, with sustained 30 km/hr and gusts up to 50 km/hr coming out of the south. Significant growth occurred on the east and north sides of the fire. Crews worked to construct a handguard north of Susap Creek to tie into an existing guard to the south of the creek. A machine guard is also being established to the east of the handguard,” a release from BC Wildfire states.

On Wednesday, crews were working to establish heli-pads on the ridge along control lines and are preparing for mop-up in secured areas.

Temperatures were slightly cooler, but winds continued to blow in a south-southwest direction up to 20-25 km/hr.

Structural Protection Specialists are engaged on the fire to protect structures if necessary, and last night BC Wildfire Service crews and Keremeos Fire Department personnel worked overnight.

Evacuation alerts are still in place for 384 property parcels within the Village of Keremeos and 481 properties in the rural Keremeos and Cawston areas.

These numbers do not include areas within the Lower Similkameen Indian Band also under evacuation alert.

Update: 10 a.m. Aug. 1

The estimated size of Snowy Mountain Fire, burning 14 kilometres south of Keremeos, has doubled to 6,155 hectares in size.

“Fire behaviour was extremely active on July 31st, and was burning Rank 5 in some areas,” writes the BC Wildfire Service.

“The fire behaviour was wind driven, with sustained 30 km/hr and gusts up to 50 km/hr coming out of the south. Significant growth occurred on the east and north sides of the fire.”

Crews worked to construct a handguard north of Susap Creek to tie into an existing guard to the south of the creek.

“A machine guard is also being established to the east of the handguard. Today, crews are working to establish heli-pads on the ridge along control lines and will prepare for mop-up in secured,” adds BC Wildfire Service.

An advisory evacuation alert has also been placed on properties in the Cawston and Keremeos areas due to the Snowy Mountain wildfire.

Updated counts this morning show in total 384 property parcels have been placed on alert within the Village of Keremeos and 481 properties in the rural Keremeos and Cawston areas.

These numbers do not include areas within the Lower Similkameen Indian Band also under evacuation alert.

An Evacuation Order has also been issued for Cathedral Lakes Lodge as the Placer Mountain wildfire poses a heightened risk to human safety due to the potential loss of road access.

Related: Evacuation Order and State of Local Emergency issued for Placer Mountain fire

A camp fire ban has been declared for the entire Kamloops Fire Centre region including the entire Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen.

More to come.

—-

Update 6:15 p.m. July 31

The Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen has put 481 properties on evacuation alert in the Lower Similkameen because of the threat of the Snowy Mountain Wildfire.

The Lower Similkameen Indian Band is also issuing Evacuation Alerts for their band members and residents, a release from the RDOS stated.

“There is the potential for burning embers to float several kilometers, sparking fires along the valley bottom. Ash and thick smoke is already visible in the Similkameen due to wildfires in the area. No properties have been evacuated at this time and residents may stay in their homes,” the release stated.

The precautionary Evacuation Alert includes all homes south and west of Highway 3 from 1143 Highway 3, south of Cawston, to the Fas Gas Plus service station at 3163 Highway 3, west of Keremeos. This includes selected homes within Electoral Area B, Electoral Area G and the Village of Keremeos closest to the Snow Mountain wildfire.

A precautionary Evacuation Alert has been issued to prepare residents to leave their premises or property if needed. In the event an Evacuation Order is issued, residents may have limited time to leave and should get prepared now.

A map of the area is at the end of this post.

Related: Ash falls in Okanagan as Similkameen fire grows

Related: Placer Mountain fire in the Similkameen grows to 1,521 hectares in size

—-

Update 5:25 p.m.

A precautionary alert was issued for Cawston and Keremeos at the request of BC Wildfire Service on Tuesday around 5 p.m.

“The wildfire could pose a risk of “spotting” (small flying ember fires) if it continues to burn north and east. The fire is currently burning 12 kilometres south of Keremeos,” a statement from the Village of Keremeos stated.

During the afternoon Tuesday, the fire experienced significant aggressive growth on the east flank due to sustained and gusty winds ranging from 30 kilometre to 50 kilometres an hour, BC Wildfire Service is reporting.

Keremeos Mayor Manfred Bauer said the precautionary alert was just that a precaution.

“This is at a very precautionary level,” he said. “There’s a small concern if the fire gets closer to Keremeos that there might be some ambers that could fly over and ignite things, you never know,” he said.

Bauer said most residents would know there is a danger, as ash has been falling in the community for several days.

“My car was parked in the driveway for two hours and there was ashes all over it. It’s already coming over. The next step, hopefully there isn’t one and that is where it’s going to stay,” he said.

A map of the Evacuation Alert area is currently being prepared and further information will be available on the Regional District’s website at rdos.bc.ca

The fire is still listed at 3,050 hectares in size but is expected to grow because of the aggressive behaviour Tuesday.

—-

Original:

After an active day Monday, the Snowy Mountain Fire, burning 14 kilometres south of Keremeos, has grown to 3,050 hectares in size.

“No planned ignitions were conducted by BC Wildfire Service on this fire yesterday. Fire behaviour was extremely active yesterday and was burning Rank 5/6 in some areas. The fire grew approximately 1000 hectares burning up a valley to the northwest away from the community of Cawston,” a release from BC Wildfire Service Stated.

Related: UPDATE: Snowy Mountain fire near Keremeos burns vigorously

On Tuesday 43 firefighters (up from 21 on Monday), three helicopters and three pieces of heavy equipment were working the out of control blaze.

Work taking place today includes constructing a handguard north of Susap Creek to tie into an existing guard to the south of the creek. This fuel free line was 80 per cent finished by the end of Monday. A machine gaurd is also being established east of the handgaurd.

As a result of the fire burning in Snowy protected area, BC Parks has closed the Ewart and Wall Creek trails pending further assessment.

The Snowy Mountain fire is burning about 36 kilometers directly east of the Placer Mountain Fire, which is now about 1,521 hectares in size. Both fires were discovered July 17 just after a lightning storm came through the area.

Related: Chopaka properties placed on evacuation alert due to Snowy Mountain fire

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Evacuation alert map from RDOS

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