More homes on evacuation alert as Okanagan fire grows

A wildfire raging near a city in B.C.'s Okanagan has doubled since late Tuesday – fanned by high winds and hot dry weather to more than 400 hectares.

More than 50 homes near a city in B.C.'s Okanagan are on evacuation alert as a nearby wildfire fanned by high winds and hot dry weather continues to grow.

The alert covers 41 homes in a residential sub-division near Oliver and about 13 on the Osoyoos Indian Band reserve.

Fire information officer Dale Bojahra told the Canadian Press that the alert is a courtesy to allow people to get prepared to leave their homes if need be.

"The level of threat to those homes is quite small," he said. "We wanted to get an alert in place well in advance of any evacuation."

The Oliver fire covers four square kilometres

By midday Wednesday, at least 15 families had been forced to flee their homes in the Oliver area, while other residents listened anxiously as flames roared and trees exploded in the nearby hills. The fire began about midday on Tuesday and quickly spread.

Last night, high winds and lightning swept through the area, raising fears the flames will spread.

"The wind is picking up. It's coming this way and going up the hill," said Sylvia Stelkia whose family has had to leave their home.

'It's terrible'

"It's going to get harder to fight this fire with this wind. It's terrible," she told CBC News.

"Everything we built – our business, our trail rides, our horses and everything," she said. "I don't want to see it go down in flames."

Crews have hosed down hot spots and built fireguards between the flames and homes.

Fire information officer Dale Bojhara says some of the crews are literally battling fires in people's yards.

However, he's optimistic the fireguards will hold, and keep the flames at bay.

Massive fire near Lytton

All this comes as firefighters continue to struggle against a much bigger fire elsewhere in the province, at Sleetsis Creek, which is near Lytton.

That fire is about 4,300 hectares in size.

More than 150 firefighters are battling it in elevations ranging from about 400 metres to 1,800 metres. However, no homes or people are at risk.

Smoke is heavy in the area and can even be seen as far away as Kamloops, about 100 kilometres to the east.