OIB expands alert in 900-hectare fire

OIB expands alert in 900-hectare fire

The Eagle Bluff fire is now 900 hectares, with an expanded alert to include Senkulmen Business Park and the Okanagan Correctional Centre. (BC Wildfire Service)

By Lyonel Doherty

As the Eagle Bluff fire grows in size to 900 hectares, the Osoyoos Indian Band (OIB) has expanded an evacuation alert to include the Okanagan Correctional Centre in Senkulmen Business Park.

This morning, a line of spot fires can be seen along the bottom edge of the mountainside south of Gallagher Lake near James Way and Enterprise Way.

Caroline McAndrews from the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General said the safety of both inmates and staff is their top priority.

“The OCC management team has planned for the eventuality that they may have to evacuate.  Sheriff transportation has been arranged for inmates.”

McAndrews said BC Corrections has the capacity to accommodate transfers as necessary, and families will be notified once these transfers are complete.

Osoyoos Indian Band Chief Clarence Louie confirmed the alert, saying no one feels good about any fire.

He noted their plans are basically common sense plans which include helping homeowners and families pack up and get settled with other family members. He said other plans could include families staying in the OIB hall, gymnasium or campground in Osoyoos.

BC Wildfire Service says the increased size of the blaze is largely due to better mapping yesterday evening (August 6), but the fire did see some growth overnight as a result of the topography of the area.

Fire Information Officer Nicole Bonnett said the fact the fire is bigger is a “good thing” because there are more safer areas for fire crews to navigate. It also offers additional air space for aircraft to operate, she pointed out.

A total of 80 personnel will be on site today. An Incident Management Team (IMT) has been mobilized.

Fire crews are continually being challenged by the steep and rocky terrain in the area.

Eight helicopters as well as airtankers are continuing to support ground crews today.

Bonnett said the fire has made its way down slope, therefore, small-scale hand ignition operations are planned today on the southern edge of Gallagher Lake. This will remove the combustible fuels between the community and the fire perimeter.

In the meantime, numerous properties (206) in the area remain on evacuation alert.