British Columbia

New wildfire east of Kelowna, B.C., forces more than 1,000 people from their homes

A large area was evacuated east of Kelowna, B.C. due to a wildfire that started Thursday afternoon.

Wildfire started Thursday afternoon but grew quickly

A fire burns east of Kelowna on Aug. 24, 2017. (Brady Strachan/CBC)

A large area was evacuated east of Kelowna, B.C. due to a wildfire that started Thursday afternoon.

The fire was reported around 1:30 p.m. PT and is approximately 20 kilometres east of the city, in the Joe Rich area. 

But it grew quickly, and Central Okanagan Emergency Operations evacuated properties for a large area affecting 474 properties and an estimated 1,100 people.

It is estimated to be 380 hectares in size, with the nearest homes 3 kilometres away. 

The size of the evacuation order to the east of Kelowna, B.C. (Central Okanagan Emergency Operations)

"It has progressed quite steadily in the last few hours," said B.C. Wildfire Service information officer Melanie Morin.

Multiple crews are on scene, including officers with the Kelowna, Lake Country and Joe Rich fire departments.

But by the evening, there were no reports of any structures impacted by the wildfire, though Highway 33 will remain closed in both directions between Gallagher and Big White Road overnight.

An Emergency Support Services reception centre was established at Willow Park church on Highway 33 in Kelowna.

RCMP evacuated properties along the following roads: Goudie, Huckleberry, Daves, Goshawk, Hawk, Falcon, Falconridge, Sun Valley, Peregrine, Philpott Forest Service, Three Forks, Thelwell, Greystokes, Dion and Schram. 

Some structures are in the vicinity of the wildfire, which can be seen throughout the City of Kelowna.

"It's congested both ways. It's pretty terrible, and the wind's pretty strong," said Brad Auger. He was heading from Kamloops to Nelson when he was forced to stop outside Kelowna because of the highway closure.

"It's hard to imagine homes haven't been affected yet, there were so many people standing on the road … you could just see plumes and plumes of smoke going higher into the air."