By Lyonel Doherty
Thick smoke hangs over the east side of Oliver as the Eagle Bluff fire continues to burn out of control north of Gallagher Lake.
The fire, just east of the Fortis substation on Highway 97, is estimated at 120 hectares in size. According to BC Wildfire Service, it is not an interface fire, meaning it is not threatening any structures or human development at this time.
Motorists continue to stop along the highway to watch the blaze burn dry grass and trees on the mountainside.
The cause is still under investigation. Fire Information Officer Taylor MacDonald said there is no indication (at the moment) that the blaze was human caused. She also confirmed there is no containment at this time.
One hundred personnel have been assigned to the incident and will arrive on site throughout the day. Two pieces of heavy equipment are also on site today.
“Crews will be operating 24 hours a day on this incident until no longer required,” says BC Wildfire.
A structure protection specialist has been activated and will be working downslope to assess residences in the area.
BC Wildfire says that resources are continually being challenged by the steep and rocky terrain in the area, therefore, site safety is a priority.
Six helicopters have been mobilized to respond. Additional air support will be available throughout the day as required. One helicopter was seen this morning getting water from Okanagan River.
Meanwhile, an evacuation alert by the regional district is still in effect for properties on the east side of the highway, extending south from McIntyre Creek Road to James Way south of Gallagher Lake, including Brauns Road and Gallagher Lake Road. The alert also includes McKinney Road at Manuels Creek Road, and extends to the north along the west side of Manuels Creek Road to approximately 3.5 kilometres on McIntyre Creek Road.
If conditions deteriorate, evacuation orders may be issued for affected residents.
Property owners will be given as much advance notice as possible prior to an evacuation order. But residents are advised to prepare to leave at any time.