374 houses placed under evacuation order | New

More than 300 homes – many in the village of Apex – were placed under evacuation orders on Monday as the Keremeos Creek wildfire intensified over the weekend.

According to RDOS officials, 438 properties are under evacuation orders and another 73 are on high alert as of the Herald’s press deadline late Monday afternoon.

The fire, first discovered on Friday, now covers 2,246 hectares.

Most homes are in Zones G and I of the Okanagan Similkameen Regional District, but some properties are affected on the Lower Similkameen Indian Reservation and Penticton Indian Reservation.

BC Wildfire information officer Bryan Zandberg told a news conference Monday that it’s not all bad news.

“Things are going pretty well. There may be gusty winds and (possible) thunderstorms have been reported which is of concern. It is a little cooler than the other days.

“We definitely watch the winds and are aware of key infrastructure and values, transmission lines, properties, highways and corridors.”

As of Monday evening, only one structure had been destroyed by fire, a wooden cabin that was occupied. No injuries were reported.

RDOS Director Subrina Monteith, who represents Zone I, praised the efforts of emergency personnel.

“I really appreciate the work done by great people who are doing an incredible job of making sure everyone is safe,” Monteith said at the press conference. “We’re not new to wildfires and it’s good to know we have the right people in the right place.”

Zandberg said he was aware of an ARC Snowbirds performance scheduled for Wednesday night.

BC Wildfire Service has an air specialist on staff and is in regular contact with airports.

Zandberg noted the efforts of community partners, including Apex Mountain Ski Resort, which deployed snow machines on Saturday to help fight wildfires.

In Penticton, Kings Park and the Adidas Sportsplex have been made available to approximately 80 out-of-town firefighters.

A reception center for fire evacuees has been established at Princess Margaret High School, 120 Green Avenue, Penticton.

Those wishing to support evacuees financially are encouraged to donate to the Red Cross or drop off gift cards at Penticton City Hall.

For regular forest fire updates, visit: emergency.rdos.bc.ca

James T. Quintero