Waiting and watching is all West Kelowna residents can do as the Smith Creek wildfire continues to burn.
Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Dan Albas is on the evacuation border at Shannon Lake, and says residents are tense as they wait to see what the weather will bring.
“It’s a bit of a nail biter. People don’t know where the winds could go. We are getting information, which is very helpful, but then again, there are priorities and it’s all dependent on where the winds go.”
Albas says although he is not in an evacuation area, his wife and children have already left.
Fire information officer Tracy Wynnyk says the blaze grew overnight, adding gusting winds didn’t help. It’s now at 400 hectares and only 20 per cent contained.
“Additional equipment resources will be assigned to this fire, and we will be doing an assessment here in the near future to take a good look at the fire from overhead, and determine what our work objectives are going to be.”
The good news: The fire was pushed down a slope towards a new subdivision, but there aren’t any homes built there yet.
An emergency shelter has been set up at a local high school.
West Kelowna Mayor Doug Finalter says residents are doing their best to keep calm.
“There’s a few very fearful people, one fellow was on the verge of tears, he thought he could see the fire right near his house from here, and he was very, very upset. But, most people are, are taking it in stride.”
He says the scariest thing right now is that it’s still pretty early in the summer fire season.
People are being told to get food, water and emergency supplies in case the fire damages power lines.
“The Wildfire Management Branch is protecting the line and the local fire department is protecting the public assets. BC Hydro is doing everything in its power to be fully prepared to respond if there is damage to this infrastructure, including assembly of materials, crews, designers, and other experts,” says BC Hydro spokeswoman Mora Scott.
She says staff are still closely monitoring the situation in Hudson’s Hope, but no damage has been reported.
(Photo credit: @DanAlbas)