Improving wildfire conditions see evacuation alerts lifted around Penticton

·2 min read
The Hedges Butte wildfire, first reported on Sept. 3, 2021, is seen from the Penticton Indian Band. All evacuation alerts that resulted from the fire have now been lifted. (Chief Greg Gabriel/Penticton Indian Band - image credit)
The Hedges Butte wildfire, first reported on Sept. 3, 2021, is seen from the Penticton Indian Band. All evacuation alerts that resulted from the fire have now been lifted. (Chief Greg Gabriel/Penticton Indian Band - image credit)

All of the evacuation alerts that resulted from the Hedges Butte wildfire southwest of Penticton, B.C. have been lifted as conditions improved on Sunday.

The fire, which was first reported on Friday, continues to burn 12 kilometres southwest of the city, and had led to more than 60 properties being put on evacuation alert.

However, both the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen and the Penticton Indian Band lifted their respective evacuation alerts on Sunday afternoon after firefighters saw minimal growth overnight.

"Currently, it's cloudy and cool on site," said Joe Lax, operations section chief with the incident management team at the B.C. Wildfire Service.

"We are expecting the winds to pick up potentially later in [Sunday] afternoon ... but we're not expecting an increase in fire behaviour."

Lax also said the nearby Skaha Creek fire, which caused evacuation alerts earlier in the week, was now classified as "held." That means no further growth is anticipated. Evacuation alerts associated with Skaha Creek were also lifted as of Sunday afternoon.

Chief Greg Gabriel of the Pentiction Indian Band said on Saturday that both fires caused significant anxiety and stress to people in the community.

The Hedges Butte fire is suspected to be human-caused, but officials say the cause is still under investigation.

Chief Greg Gabriel/Penticton Indian Band
Chief Greg Gabriel/Penticton Indian Band

At its peak, it burned more than 2.3 square kilometres, but more accurate mapping on Sunday showed its latest size is about 1.89 square kilometres.

More than 200 fires continue to burn across the province, with the majority of them still located in the Interior and the Kamloops region. Rain falling over the weekend is expected to continue to aid firefighters.

Evacuation alerts mean residents must be ready to leave their homes at a moment's notice. An evacuation order means a resident should leave immediately.

Anyone placed under an evacuation order should leave the area immediately.

Evacuation centres have been set up throughout the province to assist anyone evacuating from a community under threat from a wildfire. To find the centre closest to you, visit the Emergency Management B.C. website.

Evacuees are encouraged to register with Emergency Support Services online, whether or not they access services at an evacuation centre.

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