Huckleberry fire east of Kelowna, B.C. leads to 140 evacuations
Cause of 80-hectare aggressive fire is not yet known
A wildfire that broke out eight kilometres east of Kelowna on Friday afternoon has forced the evacuation of 141 homes and put another 158 properties on evacuation alert.
The Huckleberry fire in Joe Rich has grown to 80 hectares, says Kayla Pepper with the Kamloops Wildfire Information Centre.
"It's burning north of Highway 33 and it's a very fast moving fire and that's due to the hot and dry conditions in the area as well as some winds that are up to 25 km/hr," she says. "This is a dynamic situation and it is changing very quickly."
The Central Okanagan Regional District has issued an evacuation order for all properties on Goudie Road, Jack Pine Road, Prather Road, Trapper Road and Boone Road as well as all homes between the intersection of Goudie and 7650 Highway 33 east.
Residents living on the south side of Highway 33 east from Goudie Road to 8991 Highway 33 east are on an evacuation alert and should be prepared to leave their homes on a moments notice.
Fire displaying aggressive behaviour
Emergency crews, including 27 firefighters, eight fixed-winged aircrafts and two helicopters are at the scene of the grass fire, which is sending thick plumes of smoke into the air. The cause of the fire is not yet known.
"The fire is growing quickly and displaying aggressive behaviour," says the B.C Wildfire Management Branch. "Hot, dry conditions combined with strong winds are challenging fire suppression efforts."
Watch the raw video of the fire
RCMP are requesting that motorists avoid the area along Highway 33 East in the 5900 block as it is closed in both directions.
Allen Pauls and his wife Laura are two of the evacuees. They said the fire was a few miles from their home and when the evacuation order came, they grabbed their essentials and left.
It's not the first time they've seen a fire so close to their home of 28 years. A fire in 2003 also forced them to leave their home.
"It doesn't get any easier. The adrenaline rush is still there," Allen Pauls said. "You maybe learn what to pick and what to take, but in terms of getting any easier, no."
Joanne Little, who lives about one kilometre from the fire, says the smoke and fire is scary. It appears to be burning up a nearby mountain, and she can see helicopters flying around it.
An emergency support centre is open for evacuated residents at the Willow Park Church in Kelowna.
The Canadian Animal Disaster Response Team has also arranged for those affected by the fire to take their horses to the Kelowna Riding Club.
They were evacuated in 2003