Forest fire near Osoyoos, B.C. continues to force evacuation of residents and visitors

OSOYOOS (NEWS 1130) – A 2,000 acre wildfire burns uncontrollably just outside Osoyoos, continuing to force locals and tourists to evacuate areas of the southern Okanagan on Tuesday.

The Nk’Mip Creek wildfire started on Monday, the fire spreading quickly forcing hundreds of out of their homes, and the evacuation of tourists from a cellar and a camper van park. The crews fight the flames from the ground and from the air – with tank planes dropping fire retardants on the western flank of the flames closest to homes.

The Osoyoos Indian Band and the Okanagan-Similkameen Regional District declared a local state of emergency before the provincial declaration Tuesday afternoon. the the whole town of Oliver is on evacuation alert. On Tuesday, the blaze prompted new evacuation orders in the Okanagan-Similkameen Regional District and neighboring Kootenay-Boundary Regional District.

Kayla Bordignon and her family were on the east side of Osoyoos Lake in an RV park for their annual camping trip when they called to leave the site on the east side of Osoyoos Lake.

“We just watched him grow and grow and grow at a rapid pace. It was so amazing how quickly it spread, ”she says.

“We evacuated at 2:30 am, before the compulsory evacuation, we were in our trailer, it was shaking from the wind, and I looked at my husband and I said, ‘Let’s go. It is not worth the risk. We didn’t know what the winds were going to do. You know, it’s so scary how quickly wildfire of devastation can happen. Look at Lytton – in a few minutes it was completely gone. We didn’t want to take the risk, we have a young child. It just wasn’t worth the stress and anxiety to stay.

Gary Dell lives at the south end of Osoyoos Lake and has lived in the area for approximately 70 years. He watched the flames climb the side of the hill.

“It was really quite smoky. Yesterday you couldn’t see anything because of the smoke, looking towards the fire, ”he says.

“It’s a very rugged hill. The fire is halfway up the small mountain that is there. I wouldn’t say at the moment that it looks like it’s too close, but it was very windy last night. Of course, the fire can travel very far in a short time. I think we’re all looking across the hill, hoping that nothing really catastrophic happens.

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At the north end of Lake Oliver there are a number of wineries on Black Sage Road.

Kerri Wyse-McNolty, vice president of marketing and hospitality at Burrowing Owl Estate Winery, says they evacuated the winery around 1 a.m.

“Search and rescue personnel came to our property and informed us that we had to leave. So we started knocking on doors and waking up guests and asking everyone to pack their bags and leave the property, ”she says.

“It’s a bit tight on hold right now. The evacuation order is still in effect, so we must stay close to the guests until it is lifted. At present, the cellar is not really, from what we can tell, in imminent danger. At this point our staff are safe, our customers are safe. “

She says the valley is filled with vineyards and neighboring wineries are likely in a similar situation.

“They’re probably facing the same thing just waiting at this point to see what happens with the weather and with the ongoing firefighting efforts.”

Laura Kittmer of Wine BC says the focus is now on the safety of guests and staff.

“At this time, we continue to work closely with our wineries and tourism partners to provide updates and information on the situation as it evolves. But right now, as wineries evolve, their priority right now is for everyone out there to be safe and protected. “

With fires burning in more than one region, Kirttmer says all wine lovers planning a trip should check with a vineyard before heading there.

“I would just like to encourage all visitors to know before I go. There are nine wine regions across the province of British Columbia, some of these regions are still safe to visit, ”she says.

“Just do some research before planning this trip and just make sure you go somewhere safe.”

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