Several properties are on evacuation alert because of a wildfire burning north of Oliver in the Gallagher Lake area. (Photo courtesy of BC Wildfire)

Raptors evacuated due to threatening Okanagan wildfire

Properties on evac alert due to Eagle Bluff wildfire, located north of Oliver in the Gallagher Lake

Instead of a summer breeze wafting through his open window on Sunday night, Michael Walker got the rude awakening of wildfire smoke coming through his Deer Park Estates home, located north of Oliver.

It was around 10 p.m. and Walker said he rushed to the window of his home in Gallagher Lake to see what was happening.

“There is was, the fire was unbelievable and we could see it travelling around the transformer wires,” said Walker. “Trees were candling and it appeared the wind was blowing the flames down the mountain. I am guessing it was maybe 500 feet from (Highway 97). We were praying for daylight so the helicopters would come out and put down some water.”

READ MORE: More personnel dispatched to wildfire north of Oliver

Walker, who lives directly across from where the Eagle Bluff wildfire was burning the mountainside and has the highway separating his residence from the fire, said when he woke up in the morning it was like a “mushroom cloud” of wildfire smoke was sitting still above the area.

By 2:30 a.m. the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen emergency operations centre issued an evacuation alert for several properties in Area C. The wildfire, now estimated at 120 hectares, will have up to 90 BC Wildfire personnel working on it Monday with air support. Many reports from people living in the area are stating the bulk of fire suppression this morning seems to be concentrated on the other side of the mountain.

READ MORE: Evacuation alert issued for properties near Gallagher Lake wildfire

Among the properties is on evacuation alert, with its inhabitants on edge is the South Okanagan Rehabilitation Centre for Owls (SORCO). Dale Belvedere, manager, said she was told that those working on the fire are concerned it could jump a creek right at the bottom of the hill and that they should be ready to leave at a moments notice.

Belvedere made the decision to evacuate all the birds on Sunday evening as the flames on the mountainside jumped dramatically around under nightfall.

“It was unbelievable. It puts the fear of god into you. We have a protocol should this ever occur and that is if humans become in jeopardy we have to let all the birds fly off. This was going through my head all night but then volunteers started showing up and getting them caged up properly to be transported,” she said, pausing as a helicopter with a bucket of water flew overhead. “Honestly, this has always been a fear of mine with this property. We have done all we can on the property, cutting branches and raking pine needles up, but there is always that fear. Unfortunately, we are living it right now and we are keeping our fingers crossed.”

The cause of the fire has not been officially determined by BC Wildfire.

“The sight and sound of it was incredible last night. I don’t even know how to explain it. We could see it was difficult terrain they were working on last night and they had to pull out at one point because FortisBC transformers blew up. It was this massive explosion then you could see a big red inferno,” said Belvedere.

While some of the SORCO birds are with volunteers, most of the 30 Burrowing Owls are being transported to the BC Wildlife Park in Kamloops.

Walker, who was driving south towards Osoyoos when contacted, said the smoke that sat like a mushroom cloud this morning had been hit with a breeze. Smoke is also wafting in from a wildfire south of the border in Washington State. He said the smoke was so thick it was starting to make the mountains disappear. His biggest concern though is for his neighbour across the highway in Country Pines.

“It looked like they might be in some trouble. There is a lot of pine trees there and manufactured homes that seem to be on high alert because there was a lot of activity in the park when we drove by,” said Walker. “I really hope they get this thing under control, all I can say right now is thank-you firemen for doing your job.”

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


@PentictonNews
newstips@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

LRCA Concerts in the Park series presents: Beatlemania Unplugged

This will be the final Concerts in the Park event of the summer

Arts on the Avenue turns 21 this weekend

1st Avenue will have a weekend full of arts on display Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon

Ladysmith gallery hosts Island Living Art Show

Nanaimo Arts Council exhibition opens at the Waterfront Gallery on Aug. 24

Striking Western Forest Products workers could lose benefits in September

Union, forest company at odds over Vancouver Island benefit payments as strike enters third month

Nanaimo Ladysmith education support workers’ deal ratified

CUPE Local 606, Nanaimo school district and bargaining agent ratify deal, which runs till June 2022

Trudeau to meet with U.K. and Japanese prime ministers ahead of G7 summit

French President Emmanuel Macron, this year’s G7 host, has little expectations of a unified front from the leaders

Groups ready campaign to help young voters identify ‘fake news’ in election

The media literacy campaign to focus on identifying misinformation and suspicious sources online

Big rally in northern B.C. draws attention to continuing lumber crisis

Mayor Joan Atkinson says about 400 workers have been directly affected by the closure of the Canfor mill

Orangeville Northmen take Minto Cup at Langley Events Centre

Swept best-of-five series 3-0 over Victoria Shamrocks

Expanded support to help B.C. youth from care attend university still falling short

Inadequate support, limited awareness and eligibility restrictions some of the existing challenges

Ethnic media aim to help maintain boost in voting by new Canadians

Statistics Canada says new Canadians made up about one-fifth of the voting population in 2016

UPDATE: Crown cross-examines B.C. father accused of killing daughters

Andrew Berry is charged in the deaths of six-year-old Chloe and four-year-old Aubrey in 2017

Dog attacked by river otters, Penticton owner says

Marie Fletcher says her dog was pulled underwater by four river otters in the Penticton Channel

BC SPCA overwhelmed with cats, kittens needing homes

Large number of cruelty investigations, plus normal ‘kitten season’ to blame

Most Read