Thousands ready to evacuate as Christie Mountain wildfire burns in B.C.

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Intense wind gusts led to an increase in fire behaviour on Friday as crews navigated the rocky, sloped terrain to fight the Christie Mountain fire.

Over 3,600 properties in southeastern Penticton and another 116 in Upper Carmi are on evacuation alert.

The fire has now grown to 2,000 hectares, according to the B.C. Wildfire Service’s Friday afternoon update.

There were 15 helicopters and 132 firefighters that were working on the site Friday and will be joined by 60 additional firefighters and one helicopter on Saturday. They are working in conjunction with structure protection personnel and multiple fire departments.

“Crews and resources were challenged by the steep terrain, as well as visibility yesterday. Poor visibility limited the use of fixed wing aircraft to the sections of the fire with better visibility,” the B.C. Wildfire Service said in its latest update.

HOT, DRY CONDITIONS

Over 100 wildfires have been sparked in B.C. following a Sunday night thunderstorm and intense heat that has gripped the southern part of the province for days.

Penticton experienced six consecutive days above 30°C and reached 29.8°C on Friday. Temperatures are forecast to trend back to seasonal (mid-upper 20s) Saturday.

Precipitation through the southern interior has been well below normal for the last 30-60 days. Precipitation amounts have been at less than 40 per cent for the southern Okanagan in the last 30 days.

TWO OTHER MAJOR WILDFIRES

Doctor Creek

The fire, also ignited on Tuesday, is currently 25 kilometres southwest of Canal Flats and is approximately 3,000 hectares in size. The Regional District of East Kootenay issued an evacuation order Wednesday for properties in the Findlay Creek area, west of Canal Flats in southeastern B.C.

Smoke from the fire has drifted into Alberta, creating hazy skies over Calgary.

“This fire is highly visible and is burning in steep and rocky terrain,” B.C. Wildfire Service said in the update.

The service says the fire was caused by lightning, with ground crews working with the support of heavy equipment and aviation resources. Structural protection is also being deployed as required.

Solomon Mountain

Located four kilometres north of Beaverdell, the fire was sparked on Tuesday, as well, and as of early Friday morning, was 23.5 hectares in size.

The B.C. Wildfire Service has had more luck with this fire, with officials now classifying the fire as under control.

“Crews have made good progress establishing control lines and this fire is now classified as under control, which indicates that the fire has received sufficient suppression action to ensure no further spread. B.C. Wildfire Service crews and heavy equipment continue to reinforce containment lines,” B.C. Wildfire Service said in the latest update.

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