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South Okanagan community preparing to evacuate as wildfire grows, smoke spreads

Last Updated Aug 6, 2019 at 6:24 am MDT

Image via BC Wild Fire Service (twitter.com/BCGovFireInfo)
Summary

People living in a small community north of Oliver have been told they may need to evacuate their homes

A wildfire is growing in the area of Gallagher Lake

OLIVER (NEWS 1130) — A wildfire has put part of the South Okanagan on edge and smoke is spreading into wine country.

People living in a small community north of Oliver have been told they may need to evacuate their homes. The blaze is burning in the area of Gallagher Lake. It’s now up to 120 hectares.

It is suspected to be human-caused at this point, according to Fire Information Officer, Hannah Swift.

There are 80 members of a ground crew battling the blaze and helicopters and air tankers are assisting, she says.

The temperature is expected to hit 36 degrees Monday, which could make fighting the fire more difficult.

“It’s going to be a hot one. It is dry out there and hopefully the winds aren’t too bad for the crews on site,” Swift says.

NEWS 1130’s Bruce Claggett is in Oliver and says the fire is extremely smoky.

“This is already a very hot day in the Oliver area and the south Okanagan so this smoke coming in over the mountain and into Oliver is causing some problems for people with breathing difficulties. It’s a smoky fire at this point and we have a lot of air craft just coming up onto the hill and into a belly or a gully area trying to fight this is the fire moves aggressively,” he says. “The smoke is going to be a problem when you start to combine it with the really hot temperatures which have been some of the warmest we’ve seen so far this summer.”

Footage from overnight shows flames lighting up the sky, torching trees and scorching the land, Claggett says the smoke started moving across the lake and into Oliver Monday morning.

“The smoke is going to be a problem when you start to combine it with the really hot temperatures which have been some of the warmest we’ve seen so far this summer and the fire is still aggressively moving up on a hill. It’s just to the north east of Oliver itself but the smoke is heading into the more populous areas, kind of wine country for the South Okanagan,” he says.

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