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UPDATE: Crews fight Crater Creek wildfire near Keremeos under favourable conditions

The cross-border fire now sits at 44,000 hectares southwest of the Similkameen village
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The Crater Creek wildfire south of Keremeos has grown to more than 44,000 hectares in size and has crossed the border into the United States. (Brennan Phillips/Western News)

UPDATE: 4:45 p.m.

Weather on Tuesday afternoon has been favourable near the 44,000-hectare Crater Creek wildfire south of Keremeos.

BC Wildfire Service says smoky skies have continued to moderate temperatures through the day.

There is a risk of thunderstorms in the evening, they added.

Tonight’s forecast in the area suggests maximum temperatures will sit between 17 and 21 C.

BCWS has not updated the fire’s growth since early Tuesday afternoon.

It continues to burn south of the border and crews have been working with officials from the U.S.

“Smoke is impeding our ability to utilize aircraft, but there may be opportunities later today as smoke clears and visibility improves,” an update from the provincial centre reads.

There are currently 13 properties within the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen on evacuation order and an additional 195 properties on evacuation alert.

Tuesday marked exactly one month since the fire, located about 18 kilometres southwest of Keremeos, was discovered.

ORIGINAL:

Although the 44,000-hectare Crater Creek wildfire south of Keremeos continues to see new growth, officials say its progress has stalled on some rocky terrain near the southern portion of the blaze.

BC Wildfire Service says the cross-border blaze saw new growth on the western flank Monday afternoon, Aug. 21, near the Cathedral Provincial Park.

Visibility has remained a challenge for crews since the blaze ballooned to more than 14,000 hectares on Thursday, Aug. 17.

It is still listed as out of control and estimated to be about 18 kilometres southwest of Keremeos.

Taylor Colman, fire information officer at BCWS, says the eastern flank of the fire has run into old burn from the 2018 Snowy Mountain wildfire.

“There’s no vegetation there, so the fire is not spreading as quickly,” Colman said. “Most of the growth and activity is on the west and the north.”

There are currently 13 properties within the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen on evacuation order and an additional 195 properties on evacuation alert. It’s now been more than one month since the fire was discovered.

Last week, Lower Similkameen Indian Band Chief Keith Crow aired his frustrations of leaving the Crater Creek wildfire to burn and turn into the massive blaze it is now.z“We evacuated 36 homes, roughly 75 people,” he said.

“We had some who chose to stay. When are we going to start taking care of these fires?

“Who made the decision to monitor it?

“I’m very frustrated.”

Evacuation orders for six properties along the Similkameen River were lifted Saturday.

Structure protection crews remain active on the northeast portion of the fire near Ashnola.

“They are being supported by heavy equipment, building a guard there and looking at trying to stop the fire from progressing further north.”

The blaze has been burning south of the border since Saturday and BCWS crews have continued to work with officials in the U.S.

Smoky skies on Tuesday continue to moderate temperatures but that is expected to change starting on Wednesday.

BCWS says smoke impacts are expected to lessen, which would result in warmer weather.

“Smoke is impeding our ability to utilize aircraft, but there may be opportunities later (Tuesday) as smoke clears and visibility improves.”

Some precipitation is possible, they added, but only small amounts, if any.

An emergency reception centre has been activated at Princess Margaret Secondary School, 120 Green Avenue E. in Penticton.

As of Tuesday, a total of 350 people have received assistance at the centre.

READ MORE: Minimal activity overnight as Twin Lakes wildfire updated to 1,830 hectares


@lgllockhart
logan.lockhart@pentictonwesternnews.com



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