British Columbia

New wildfire ignites close to Vernon, B.C., as firefighters contain nearby blaze in Coldstream

The B.C. Wildfire Service says the Becker Lake wildfire is only one hectare but is very visible from Vernon and the surrounding area. The fire is currently classified as "out of control." 

B.C. Wildfire Service says Becker Lake fire is currently 'out of control'

Firefighters spread fire retardant on a blaze near Vernon, B.C. The city in the province's north Okanagan region has had two new wildfires start in the past 24 hours. (Submitted by Marjorie Schaper)

The B.C. Wildfire Service says it is responding to a new wildfire near Vernon in B.C.'s north Okanagan Saturday after crews successfully held back a blaze in the nearby district of Coldstream overnight. 

The service says the Becker Lake wildfire is only one hectare but is very visible from Vernon and the surrounding area. The fire is currently classified as "out of control." 

Fire information officer Aydan Coray said the wildfire is three to five kilometres outside of town and the cause is currently unknown.

Kieran Stewart and his family live about a kilometre away from the fire. He said their bags were packed in case they had to make a quick exit. 

"We're a little nervous right now," Stewart said, as he watched out his living room windows to see crews working to put out the fire. "It's pretty scary."

The B.C. Wildfire Service says one of the two fires burning near Vernon is classified as 'out of control.' (Submitted by Marjorie Schaper)

Stewart said there were some homes even closer to the fire that had already been evacuated. Many people living in the area are feeling anxious, he said, especially given the recent fire in Lytton that destroyed most of the homes there. 

Trevor Seibel, chief administrative officer for the district of Coldstream, said the fire started at around 2 p.m. PT Saturday. 

"It's a little bit overwhelming at times," Seibel said. 

Conditions in the area are tinder-dry, Seibel said, and people in the area should be extra cautious to not spark another wildfire while outside for recreation.

A fire was sparked at around 10 p.m. PT Friday in the north Okanagan. By 12:30 a.m. Saturday, the city of Vernon had declared a tactical evacuation for some residents in the district of Coldstream near Clerke Road. (Jean Flanagan/Submitted)

Meanwhile, the blaze that prompted an overnight evacuation order in the district of Coldstream on Friday is being held and fire crews are not expecting it to grow any further.

"The Clerke Road wildfire was sparked late last night," said spokesperson Madison Smith, "but because of the hard work of our crews along with the local fire department, the fire is now classified as being held."

Some residents in the community were forced to leave their homes as the city declared a tactical evacuation order around 12:30 a.m. PT on Saturday, but the district rescinded the order later in the morning and allowed residents to return home.

"We had 29 personnel on site assisting local fire departments last night on the fire. And then this morning, we've had helicopters, bucketing water to help with suppression," Smith said.

WATCH | Wildfire triggers evacuation alert near Vernon:

Wildfire triggers evacuation alert near Vernon, B.C.

3 months ago
Residents near the city of Vernon, B.C., are being asked to return home after a wildfire nearby triggered an evacuation in the early morning. 4:32

An evacuation alert still remains in the area and residents are being asked to prepare to leave in a moment's notice.

A close call

Jean Flanagan said she was enjoying a relaxing evening out on the deck when she spotted smoke along the highway. 

"We eventually got through to *5555 so I reported the fire and where it was and he was asking me questions like the size of the fire and the wind," Flanagan told CBC News, "and I said, 'Look, I can't talk further, I need to prepare to evacuate.'"

She said she woke up the rest of the family, packed the car and discussed where they would go, but by then fire crews had arrived on scene to battle the blaze.

"I was very grateful. I could see their headlights bobbing up as they climbed up to a very steep terrain and approached the edge of the fire," she said. "They are very brave people and I am grateful for their efforts."

Flanagan said luckily she didn't have to leave her house, but this experience has made her realize that she needs to prepare for the wildfire season.

"Everyone in B.C. has got that niggling in the back of their minds ... and it shouldn't come as a surprise, but it always does."

Other evacuation orders

On Saturday evening, officials with the Thompson-Nicola Regional District issued an evacuation order for 132 properties close to a wildfire, called the Embelton Mountain wildfire, burning near the Sun Peaks ski resort northeast of Kamloops.

It was sparked on Thursday and has grown to 50 hectares in size. Wildfire officials say the blaze is "out of control" and aggressive. More firefighters and equipment is being sent to the area.

The Cariboo Regional District also issued an evacuation order for properties in a remote area nearly 300 kilometres west of Williams Lake. It's in relation to the North of Big Stick Lake fire, which started on July 2. Wildfire officials say the fire is 72 hectares in size and wind is fanning the flames. Firefighters working on the ground have had to pull out on Saturday for safety reasons, according to the B.C. Wildfire Service.

Anyone placed under an evacuation order must leave the area immediately. 

Evacuation centres have been set up throughout the province to assist anyone evacuating from a community under threat from a wildfire. To find the centre closest to you, visit the Emergency Management BC website.

Evacuees are encouraged to register with Emergency Support Services online, whether or not they access services at an evacuation centre.

Anyone who knows of anybody who may have been in Lytton on June 30 and who is unaccounted for should call or attend any RCMP detachment and report that person missing, Emergency Management BC says.