Evacuation order issued as fire rages in B.C.’s Central Okanagan
Published Sunday, September 9, 2012 9:32PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, September 9, 2012 10:25PM EDT
Officials in British Columbia’s Central Okanagan region have issued an evacuation order as a forest fire threatens homes near the community of Peachland.
The Central Okanagan Emergency Operations agency issued the order Sunday evening. The agency said the fire was first reported around 3:00 p.m. local time.
“BC Wildfire Management crews and equipment along with crews from West Kelowna, Peachland and Kelowna are actively fighting the fire,” the agency said in a statement.
The evacuation order covers the Central Okanagan west electoral area and a large part of the District of Peachland, where local states of emergency have been declared.
A reception centre for residents affected by the evacuation order opened at 6:00 p.m. local time at the Westbank Lions Community Hall in West Kelowna.
A second reception centre was opened late Sunday for residents near Peachland, at the Summerland Arena and Curling Club.
Late Sunday evening, officials also issued an evacuation alert for a further 10 streets in the area.
RCMP Const. Steve Holmes said Sunday that the fire was being fuelled by winds of up to 40 km/h.
“Right away, the fire took off,” Holmes said.
"Our biggest issue has been with Mother Nature, which is the high winds we've been experiencing in the area, and the unpredictability," Holmes said. "They've been changing direction and they've been driving a lot of smoke, a lot of flames down towards Highway 97 as well as smoke up onto the 97 Connector."
Highway 97 was also closed at Princeton Rd. in Peachland, and at Glenrosa Rd. in West Kelowna.
While the fire is affecting a largely rural area, it is threatening farms and subdivisions, Holmes said.
With files from The Canadian Press