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UPDATE: 2,632-hectare Eagle Bluff wildfire is now 'held'

(UPDATE: Aug. 16 @ 8:45 am) - There's still work to be done, but the Eagle Bluff wildfire isn't expected to grow beyond its current perimeter.

The fire still sits at 2,632 hectares and the BC Wildfire Service is classifying it as 'held'.

"Containment lines and contingency lines have been completed around the perimeter of the fire," says the latest written release from BCWS.

"While the fire remains active, it is now burning in an area that historically has seen low intensity fire. "

Crews will continue to mop up and patrol the fire today with an objective of extinguishing all hot spots within 200 feet of the fire perimeter.

For more information, click this link.

(UPDATE: Aug. 15 @ 6:35 am) - The BC Wildfire Service had to postpone the controlled burn that was planned for the Eagle Bluff wildfire on Wednesday.

"Due to the rain received yesterday, fuels were too wet to conduct a successful burn," said a written statement from BCWS.

"Conditions will be evaluated (this) morning, and weather permitting an ignition may begin again (today) to help contain the fire perimeter."

The fire remains at 2,632 hectares, the same size it's been estimated at since Monday morning.

On Wednesday, 149 firefighters were battling the blaze, while 47 came in and worked overnight.

Heavy equipment continues to be used on the fire 24 hours a day as crews construct a guard surrounding the perimeter of the fire, which is expected to be completed today.

(UPDATE: Aug. 14 @ 11:15 am) - More planned ignition operations are planned for the Eagle Bluff wildfire today.

Crews will be tackling the fire's northern perimeter as long as weather conditions stay favourable.

The Eagle Bluff wildfire remains at an estimated 2,632 hectares and is burning in steep terrain about five kilometres northeast of Oliver.

It's still classified as out of control and the planned ignitions should help crews to safely create a controlled, fuel-free area ahead of the fire.

This would prevent the blaze from spreading further as warm and dry conditions return after a cooler, wet weekend.

(UPDATE: Aug. 13 @ 9 pm) - BCWS has implemented an area restriction order for Crown Land within the vicinity of the Eagle Bluff wildfire.

The order was put in place to ensure public safety and the safety of the fire fighting personnel on scene and applies to land within the geographic boundaries shown in the map below.

<who>Photo credit: BCWS</who>

The order will remain in place until noon on Aug. 30 unless it is rescinded earlier.

According to BCWS individuals must not remain in or enter the restricted area without the prior written authorization unless they are:

  • Travelling to or from his or her principle residence that is not under an evacuation order.
  • Travelling to or from leased property for the purposes of accessing a secondary residence or recreational property that is not under an evacuation order.
  • Travelling as a person acting in an official capacity.
  • Travelling for the purpose of supporting wildfire suppression activities.
  • Engaging and/or participating in agricultural activities pertaining to livestock management on private or leased property.

(UPDATE: Aug. 13 @ 8:35 am) - Monday was another positive day on the front lines of the Eagle Bluff wildfire near Oliver.

BCWS says there was "no significant fire growth" and the blaze remains at 2,632 hectares in size.

It is still an out of control and active fire, however, despite the the decreased amount of visible smoke.

"Today, crews are mopping up on the northwest of the fire and continue patrols along McKinney Road area," says the latest from BCWS.

"Crews are conducting aerial scans in some areas of the fire to target hotspots. Preparation continues for a planned ignition on the northern flank in the coming days."

There are 160 firefighters, 19 pieces of heavy equipment and 14 helicopters currently assigned to the fire.

(UPDATE: Aug. 12 @ 10:30 am) - It's been an encouraging 48 hours for crews battling the Eagle Bluff wildfire near Oliver.

According to BCWS, fire activity has decreased thanks to a series of successful planned ignitions, along with the cooler temperatures and precipitation the region experienced this weekend.

Currently, it's estimated at 2,632 hectares in size.

"While cooler conditions have decreased the amount of visible smoke, please be advised that this is still an active wildfire," says the latest update from BCWS.

"Smoke could be visible again due to a planned ignition or increase in fire activity."

There are 160 firefighters, 19 pieces of heavy equipment and 14 helicopters assigned to the fire right now, with 47 of the personnel being the overnight team.

Investigators are still trying to determine an official cause of the fire, which began on Sunday, Aug. 4.

(UPDATE: Aug. 11 @ 4:30 pm) - According to the BCWS the Eagle Bluff Wildfire is no longer considered to be an immediate threat to surrounding structures.

In light of this, the Regional District Of Okanagan-Similkameen has rescinded the evacuation alert for properties in Electoral Area "C" that was announced on Aug 5.

(UPDATE: Aug. 10 @ 9 am) - After tracking the perimeter of the Eagle Bluff wildfire on Friday night, the BCWS now estimates it to be at 2,680 hectares in size.

Most of the 400 hectares of growth was from Friday's planned ignition and cooler weather conditions will likely limit growth over the weekend.

There may, however, be another planned ignition to move the fire southeast, but once again it depends on weather conditions.

<who>Photo Credit: BC Wildfire Service

"Today, heavy equipment will construct guard in operable areas along the east flank and northeast corner," says the latest information from BCWS.

"Other objectives are to build a retardant line in areas inoperable to heavy equipment along the north flank."

There are currently 169 firefighters, 19 pieces of heavy equipment and 15 helicopters assigned to this fire, which is the biggest burning in BC right now.

(UPDATE: Aug. 9 @ 10:20 am) - The Eagle Bluff wildfire, which is currently estimated at 2,260 hectares, "will likely see growth in the next few days," says the BC Wildfire Service.

However, that growth is a positive thing, as it'll allow the fire to move into safer and more workable terrain for crews.

"The growth in size is occurring away from communities and will allow safer working spaces for all resources on the fire," says the BCWS.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia

A number of tasks are ahead for crews today, including another controlled burn after successful planned ignitions on Wednesday and Thursday.

As always, it depends on conditions this afternoon.

Currently, 173 firefighters are battling the Eagle Bluff wildfire with the assistance of 13 helicopters and 19 pieces of heavy equipment.

The overnight crew consists of 22 personnel.

(Update: Aug. 8 @ 10:15 p.m.): The BC Wildfire Service said this evening that planned ignitions at the Eagle Bluff wildfire today have been successful.

After the ignitions, the fire is now estimated at 2,270 hectares, This morning it was estimated at 1,500 hectares.

Additional resources were assigned to the fire today, for a total of 180 personnel.

BC Wildfire says that 20 personnel will remain on the blaze through the night.

Officials will also be conducting a “rotary wing night vision flight” of the fire tonight. The flight will help support ground crews working night operations and will aid in the detection of new fire. It will also allow them to get a more accurate mapping of the fire’s perimeter due to decreased smoke at night.

(UPDATE: Aug. 8 @ 9:55 am) - The Eagle Bluff wildfire remains at 1,500 hectares, the same size it was estimated at last night, but fire information officer Nicole Bonnett says that could change once the smoke clears up and they're able to get a better reading on the blaze.

For now, more than 100 firefighters and 13 helicopters continue to work in extreme conditions trying to suppress the out of control fire, which is burning near Oliver and Okanagan Falls.

Those firefighters will soon be joined by additional resources, which Bonnett says are on the way today.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia

If able, another controlled burn will be performed this afternoon, which would be a continuation of Wednesday's successful controlled burn near the south end of Gallagher Lake.

The hot and dry conditions are expected to continue and BCWS is doing everything possible to ensure those battling the blaze remain hydrated and manage the exhaustion that comes with working in such extreme heat.

One thing that Bonnett stressed to NowMedia over the phone was for drivers to respect the reduced speed limits in the area and to not stop on the highway to look at the fire.

As tempting as it may be, stopping to take an extended look at the fire creates safety issues for multiple parties.

(UPDATE: Aug. 7 @ 8:27 pm) - According to fire information officer Shannon Street, the Eagle Bluff wildfire has now reached an estimated 1,500 hectares.

<who>Photo credit: BCWS</who>

In addition, the Regional District of the Okanagan-Similkameen has also expanded the evacuation alert in Electoral Area "C" to include 41 new properties within the McKinney Creek area.

The RDOS would like to remind residents to avoid stopping along Highway 97 as should an evacuation order be issued it will be the main evacuation route. They are reminding boaters to stay clear of all aircraft while on the water.

(UPDATE: Aug. 7 @ 5 pm) - Fire information officer Nicole Bonnett has confirmed that crews have initiated a planned hand-ignition on the south end of the Eagle Bluff Wildfire near Gallagher lake.

As a result, more smoke has become prominent in surrounding communities.

“Fighting fire with fire allows us to burn out any remaining combustible fuel between a control line and the wildfire perimeter itself,” said Bonnett.

Combustible fuel is known as any surrounding foliage such as grass, sagebrush and pine needles that can easily.

“This allows us to eliminate the fire from reaching the fuel on its own and giving us some control over it in this situation,” added Bonnett.

The controlled burn will add some area to the fire, and Bonnett says we can expect more growth throughout the next few days.

“We expect the increases just based on the hot and dry conditions we are experiencing in the area,” she said.

Currently, the fire is still at an estimated 900 hectares with a size update expected to come within the next five hours.

As of now, there is 80 personnel on scene, with 10 helicopters and air tanker support. Bonnett says more resources are en route.

(UPDATE: Aug. 7 @ 8:20 am) - The Eagle Bluff wildfire is now up to an estimated 900 hectares.

"(The) increase in size is largely due to better mapping yesterday evening, but the fire did see some growth overnight due to the topography of the area," said a tweet from the BCWS.

Crews are planning small-scale ignition operations for the southern edge of Gallagher Lake today, as well as the removal of combustible fuels outside the fire's perimeter.

Increased smoke will be visible from nearby communities, says BCWS.

(UPDATE: Aug. 7 @ 7 am) - The evacuation alert connected to the Eagle Bluff wildfire has been expanded.

Ten properties in Senkulmen Business Park on the Osoyoos Indian Band have been added to the alert and should be ready to go at any time.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia

On Tuesday, the fire experienced significant growth, jumping from 225 hectares on Monday night to 600 hectares just 24 hours later.

BCWS crews continue to battle the fire 24 hours a day with the assistance of helicopters and air tankers.

(UPDATE: Aug. 6 @ 10:10 pm) - Fire information officer Nicole Bonnett has confirmed that the Eagle Bluff wildfire has grown to what is now an estimated 600 hectares.

According to Bonnett, most of the growth has been experienced on the south end of the fire toward Gallagher Lake. The significant growth is due to the extremely hot and dry conditions experienced in the area this afternoon.

<who>Photo credit: NowMedia</who>

Now having become more visible to surrounding communities, BCWS wants to remind the public there are personnel monitoring and attending to the blaze 24 hours a day, with crew working straight through the night.

According to BCWS, the night has brought with it a drop in temperature which has caused the advancing perimeter to slow down with the flames backing up onto themselves.

However, if the fire begins to advance down the slope toward the communities on the south end, Bonnett says crews at the bottom will start to implement a controlled burn operation.

"The operations will remove any combustible fule between the community and the fire perimeter," said Bonnett.

As of now, the current evacuation alert remains intact for the 206 properties north of Oliver in Electoral Area "C."

(UPDATE: Aug. 6 @7:20 pm) - According to BCWS information officer Nicole Bonnett, the Eagle Bluff wildfire is now estimated to be 480 hecatres in size.

However, Bonnett says that number is a "very rough estimate" as the smoke surrounding the area has made it difficult to get a concise aerial track of the blaze.

<who>Photo credit: NowMedia</who>

"We are likely to see a bit of growth in the next couple of days and that will actually be a good thing," said Bonnett.

Based on the area the fire is currently burning, there is a lot of "steep, inoperable and unsafe terrain" says Bonnett, which poses difficulty for ground crew, heavy equipment and air support.

"With the fire moving upslope it will be moving away from the community into some more workable ground that will be safer for all resources."

As of now, there is still 100 personnel on scene with crews set to operate 24 hours a day until further notice.

(UPDATE: Aug. 6 @ 9:55 am) - The Eagle Bluff wildfire is now estimated at 280 hectares, but that's mostly because of better mapping.

The fire showed "little overnight growth," said Kelsey Dunkley, fire information officers with the BC Wildfire Service.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia

Crews stayed on the fire overnight and the majority of the 100 personnel assigned to the blaze arrived back on site early this morning.

The Incident Management Team assigned to the fire has now arrived as well, although the cause remains under investigation.

Dunkley says it's suspected to have been human-caused.

An evacuation alert remains in place for 206 properties north of Oliver in Electoral Area C.

For more information on that alert, click this link.

(UPDATE: Aug 5 @ 8:30 pm): BCWS are now estimating the Eagle Bluff wildfire has reached 225 hectares.

Onsite air tankers have been dropping retardant along the east flank throughout the evening to help limit the potential for overnight growth. Twenty personnel are set to work throughout the night.

An incident management team has been assigned to the fire and will be established by tomorrow.

An evacuation alert still remains in effect for the 206 properties north of Oliver in Electoral Area "C" which includes residences along Brauns Road, Sundial Road, Gallagher Lake Road, Manuels Canyon Road, McIntyre Creek Road, Enterprise Way, James Way and Hwy 97.

(UPDATE: Aug 5 @ 3:50 pm): The Eagle Bluff wildfire is now being considered an interface fire according to the BCWS, and a structure protection specialist has been brought on scene.

The specialist will be assessing residences in the evacuation alert area, structure protection units have been deployed to the area as well.

<who>Photo credit: NowMedia</who>

Currently, there are 100 personnel assigned to the 200-hectare fire with two water tenders, eight helicopters and airtankers on-site to assist ground crew.

Crew will be operating 24 hours a day until further notice with additional air support on stand by if required.

According to BCWS, crew and resources are facing some challenges due to the steep and rocky terrain of the area.

(UPDATE: Aug 5 @ 1:00 pm): BC Wildfire Service now reports a hundred wildfire personnel have been deployed to battle the Eagle Bluff wildfire located approximately 10 kilometres southeast of Okanagan Falls.

Six helicopters and two water tenders are also providing service as the hillside blaze continues to burn at an estimated 200 hectares.

An evacuation alert has been issued for several properties located near the small community of Gallagher Lake, but the blaze is not considered to be an interface fire.

<who> Photo Credit: BC Wildfire Service.

<who> Photo Credit: BC Wildfire Service.

Officials from Fortis BC are currently on-site "ensuring safety to ground crews" and to assess the wildfire's potential impact on nearby hydro infrastructure.

Smoke remains highly visible in the area and a special air quality statement has been issued for the south Okanagan in response to the wildfire.

More info to come...

(Original Story): An evacuation alert has been issued for several properties located near Gallagher Lake as the Eagle Bluff wildfire continues to burn north of Oliver.

The wildfire was initially reported late Sunday evening and was last estimated at 120 hectares in size.

According to NowMedia reporter Gord Goble, a helicopter has started to dump water onto the hillside blaze that continues to burn close to a Fortis BC substation.

The Oliver Fire Department has also reported that power has been "compromised" in the area, but exact details remain scarce.

BC Wildfire Service has also reported that Fortis BC officials are currently on-site and assessing the impacts to hydro infrastructure.

According to the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen emergency operations centre, the evacuation alert currently applies to all properties on the east side of Highway 97, extending south from McIntyre Creek Road to James Way south of Gallagher Lake — including Brauns Road and Gallagher Lake Road.

The alert also includes properties on James Way and extending southeast to McKinney Road at Manuels Creek Road and north along the west side of Manuels Creek Road to approximately 3.5 kilometres on McIntyre Creek Road.

<who> Photo Credit: RDOS EOC.

More to come...

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