UPDATE: Thomas Creek wildfire being held

NowMedia Staff | August 24, 2021 in Penticton

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(UPDATE: Aug. 24 @ 7:55 am) – The Thomas Creek wildfire is now being held at 10,597 hectares.

BC Wildfire Service said cold temperatures, high humidity and rain have stalled the fire's growth. 

Containment lines are holding and crews are now patrolling for any potential challenges from the fire.

Photo credit: BCWS

BCWS said it will no longer class Thomas Creek as a wildfire of note and will no longer provide daily updates about firefighters' progress against the blaze.

"Fire activity is minimal on this fire now and the CAF have been solidifying containment lines as well as the continued use of planned ignitions that are critical in reinforcing guard lines to gain containment on the fire," BCWS explained.

"This technique is used to remove unburnt fuels between the guard line and the fire to help further secure the fire perimeter."

There are no evacuation alerts or orders associated with the fire.


(UPDATE: Aug. 23 @ 11 am) – BCWS is reporting stalled growth on the Thomas Creek wildfire due to rain and cooler temperatures.

The fire remains estimated at 10,597 hectares and the cause is still under investigation.

There are 33 firefighters (including 18 CAF personnel), 34 support staff, 20 pieces of heavy equipment, 33 firefighters and two helicopters on site today.

Some of the Canadian Armed Forces personnel were sent south to help with the Nk'Mip Creek wildfire so some firefighters there can take a few days off.

Crews will continue to patrol and monitor the northern flank of the fire which is burning the farthest from Okanagan Falls.

BC Wildfire Service explains that “containment lines on the northern edge are cleared and this area is under modified response allowing the fire to back down the northern slope towards the guard in steep terrain.”

Mop up operations continue on the rest of the fire.

The Canadian Armed Forces personnel continue to reinforce containment lines and use planned ignitions to contain the fire.

The Australian incident management team continues to manage the Okanagan Complex which includes the Thomas Creek (K51794), Brenda Creek (K51924) and Nk'Mip Creek (K52061) wildfires.


(UPDATE: Aug. 22 @ 4:45 pm) –The Thomas Creek wildfire continues to show limited fire activity due to cooler and more humid weather conditions.

The fire is still estimated at 10,597 hectares.

Today, there are 72 firefighters (including 55 CAF personnel), 34 support staff, 20 pieces of heavy equipment and three helicopters on site.

Crews continue to mop up and patrol on the southern, eastern and western flanks of the fire.

The northern flank of the fire is still considered a modified response but is being patrolled by crews.

Photo Credit: BCWS

The area received some rainfall so crews are monitoring how this has affected the fire.

Crews continue to utilize planned ignitions to remove unburned fuels between fire guards and the main body of the fire.

Fire guards are being constructed and reinforced.

There have been no changes to the evacuation notices that were rescinded earlier this month.

Visit the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen website for more information.


(UPDATE: Aug. 20 @ 12:49 pm) - Crews at the Thomas Creek wildfire are working on a spot fire near Oliver today. 

BC Wildfire Service said the spot fire is "of no threat to containment or properties."

"While a strong firefighter presence remains on the fire, some sections are now considered to be in modified response, due to steep, inoperable terrain as well as consideration of the safety of firefighters," the agency added.

"The area of modified response will be monitored daily."

Photo credit: BCWS

BCWS said fire activity at Thomas Creek is "minimal." 

Canadian Armed Forces personnel have been "solidifying containment lines," the agency explained, while also helping with planned ignitions.

The fire is now estimated to be 10,597 hectares in size and remains out of control.

In its latest update, BCWS said it had 68 firefighters (including 55 CAF personnel) at the fire alongside 34 support staff, 20 pieces of heavy equipment and three helicopters.


(UPDATE: Aug.19 @ 11:40 am) - The Thomas Creek wildfire remains out of control, but the northwestern portion of the fire is now considered a modified response. 

For the safety of the 73 firefighters, including the 62 Canadian Armed Forces personnel, response was changed to ‘modified’ as some sections of the fire are burning in inoperable terrain. 

Lower winds combined with mild conditions has contributed to a benign fire behaviour, small areas continue to smoke.

“The Thomas creek fire has continued to show extremely benign fire behaviour and any burning areas are within containment lines and crews continue to mop up edges that have burnt to the guard and patrol areas in modified response,” said BCWS. 

The CAF have been solidifying containment lines and working with BCWS to plan continued ignitions.

Along with firefighters, there are currently 34 support staff, 19 pieces of heavy equipment and three helicopters assigned to this fire. 

BCWS confirmed in its update that “Fire size has reduced as we have managed to have an accurate track completed.”  A new public map will become available later this afternoon.

Check the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen, for up to date information on evacuation alerts and orders.


(UPDATE: Aug.18 @ 11 am) – The Thomas Creek wildfire is now estimated at 10,597 hectares due to more accurate mapping.

There are 73 firefighters on site today which includes 62 Canadian Armed Forces personnel.

Thirty-four support staff, 19 pieces of heavy equipment and three helicopters are also fighting the blaze today.

BC Wildfire Service explains that the fire continues to show minimal activity and continues to burn within containment lines.

Photo Credit: BCWS

Crews are working to mop up along the edges of the fire perimeter while patrolling areas that are now requiring only a modified response.

The fire is most active in the northwestern flank, with a bit of activity in the northeastern flank, near the Derenzy Lake and Allendale Lake areas.

Visit the Regional District of Okanagn-Similkameen website for more information on any evacuation alerts or orders.

Photo Credit: BCWS


(UPDATE: Aug. 17 @ 11:25 am) - The Thomas Creek wildfire is still classified as out of control, but the fire has been showing extremely benign behaviour.

Mild conditions and lower winds in the region has proven to be very helpful for BCWS as they begin to make progress on the wildfire. 

It remains at an estimated 11,771 hectares, and it still well within containment lines set up by crews as they continue to mop up edges that have burnt to the guard. 

There are currently 77 firefighters including 62 Canadian Armed Forces personnel, 34 support staff including a BC Wildfire Service Incident Management, Team, 19 pieces of heavy equipment, and four helicopters.

While a strong firefighter presence remains on scene, modified response of the fire in areas that has extreme and steep terrain is being monitored closely. 

Evacuation orders remain in place for the Derenzy Lake and Allandale Lake areas, check the RDOS for more information. 


(UPDATE: Aug. 16 @ 1:50 pm ) - Due to steep terrain, response for the Thomas Creek wildfire is now being classified as a modified response as the fire has spread to areas that are inoperable. 

A modified response, is a downgrade from a full response as crews work to use a combination of direct and indirect attacks on the wildfire. Containment for the fire continues to be monitored by an Australian BC Wildfire Service Incident Management Team, who is currently in charge of the Okanagan Complex. 

There are 75 firefighters currently on scene including 58 Canadian Armed Forces personnel, 34 support staff, 27 pieces of heavy equipment, and four helicopters all assigned to the fire. 

Yesterday the fire exhibited subdued behaviour during extreme windy and dry conditions. The fire remains within built machine guard containment lines on all sides.

An evacuation order remains in place for the Derenzy Lake and Allandale Lake areas.

The most up to date information on alerts and orders can be found on the RDOS website.

The wildfire is still estimated to be around 11,771 hectares. 


(UPDATE: Aug. 14 @ 6 pm) – The Thomas Creek wildfire experienced a small amount of growth and is now estimated at 11,771 hectares.

There are 32 firefighters, 57 Canadian Armed Forces personnel, 39 support staff, 27 pieces of heavy equipment and four helicopters on site today.

The fire continues to burn out of control, however, BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) is reporting that “a small portion in the northwest corner is now considered a modified response.”

The agency notes that crews remain assigned to the fire, but some sections have been moved to modified response due to steep, inoperable terrain and unsafe conditions.

BCWS explains that fire behaviour is expected to increase in the coming days.

Photo Credit: BC Wildfire dashboard

“Crews and equipment are prepared for this shift in winds and increase in fire behaviour and will be ensuring that they have plans for a safe escape from the fire line should the need arise.”

A structural protection task force and BCWS crew members will be present overnight in the coming days

Crews continue to move northwards while engaging in hand ignition operations in the eastern flank of the fire.

The most active area continues to be the northwest flank in the Derenzy Lake area.

Visit the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen website for information on evacuation notices.

Photo Credit: BC Wildfire Service
Thomas Creek wildfire burning on Aug.13


(UPDATE: August 13 @ 11:00 am) - The Thomas Creek wildfire has seen limited growth since Monday and remains at an estimated 11,755 hectares. 

Thomas Creek is apart of the Okanagan Complex which also includes Nk'Mip Creek and the Brenda Creek wildfires. These fires are being managed by a group of Australian division supervisors, who will now be taking a rest day before heading back out to the fires Aug. 14. 

While some are on their days off there are still 62 Canadian Armed Forces personnel, 33 firefighters, 32 support staff, including a BC Wildfire Service Incident Management Team, 28 pieces of heavy equipment, and four helicopters being shared between the three fires. 

Keep up to date with information regarding evacuation alerts and orders on the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) website. 

Yesterday the RDOS held an information session on each of the fires in the Okanagan Complex.


(UPDATE: Aug, 12 @ 11:30 am) - The Thomas Creek wildfire remains at an estimated 11,755 hectares.

The BC Wildfire Service says the fire remains active on the northwest flank, in the Derenzy Lake area, and on the northeast flank, by Allendale Lake.

Crews continue to establish machinery and contingency guards around the fire's perimeter and the guard lines will be reinforced using hand and aerial ignitions when conditions allow for it.

"Continued use of planned ignitions is critical in reinforcing guard lines to gain containment on the fire," the latest BCWS update explained. 

"This technique is used to remove unburnt fuels between the guard line and the fire to help further secure the fire perimeter."

Photo Credit: BCWS
The Flathead Unit Crew, whose home base is Cranbrook, with the Air Crew from the Canadian Armed Forces 450 Tactical Helicopter.

At this time, there are 46 BCWS firefighters assigned to this fire and they're being aided by 47 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel, which has been a big boost to efforts on the frontline.

"The recent increase in CAF personnel that are working on this fire is providing a greater overall compliment of valuable ground crews to support the efforts of aircraft and equipment," said the BCWS. 

"These personnel will continue to work on fire suppression in alignment with BCWS staff."

Another 33 support staff, including a BCWS incident management team, 27 pieces of heavy equipment and four helicopters are assigned to this fire.

As the hot, dry weather returns to the South Okanagan, fire behaviour is expected to continue increasing daily.

"These conditions are expected to cause new growth on the fire and may also cause the fire to become more visible to surrounding communities," the BCWS added.


(UPDATE: Aug. 11 @ 11 am) - The Thomas Creek wildfire remains at 11,755 hectares, but BCWS suggests that fire behaviour is expected to increase. 

A warm, drying trend has returned to the south Okanagan and temperatures will increase and humidity will decrease over the coming days. Winds will continue to be from north to northwest with the potential of gusts in the afternoon, this expected rebound in fire behaviour may cause new growth on the fire, and it may also cause the fire to become more visible to surrounding communities.

The fire remains active on the northwest flank in the Derenzy Lake area, and on the northeast flank by Allendale Lake. Continued use of planned ignitions is critical in reinforcing a guard lines to gain containment on the fire, crews are working to mop up hot spots where these planned ignitions have occurred.

"The recent increase in Canadian Armed Forces personnel that are working on this fire is providing a greater overall compliment of valuable ground crews to support the efforts of aircraft and equipment. These personnel will continue to work on fire suppression in alignment with BC Wildfire Service staff," said BCWS. 

There are currently 46 firefighters, 62 Canadian Armed Forces personnel, 33 support staff, including a BC Wildfire Service Incident Management Team, 24 pieces of heavy equipment, and four helicopter being shared between the Okanagan Complex. 

Evacuation orders remain in place for the Derenzy Lake and Allandale Lake areas, check the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen to see which properties have been affected. 


(UPDATE: Aug. 9 @ 10:45 am) - The Thomas Creek wildfire burning just 3 km northeast of Okanagan Falls is now up to an estimated 11,755 hectares. 

After a small amount of rainfall over the weekend, cooler weather and wet conditions is allowing for crews and equipment to work in tight proximity to the fire.

Fire crews have been working to establish machine and contingency guards around the perimeter of the fire in a methodical manner.

There are currently 48 firefighters, 64 Canadian Armed Forces personnel, 39 support staff, including a BC Wildfire Service Incident Management Team, 23 pieces of heavy equipment, and three helicopters shared within the Okanagan Complex. 

Resources are currently spread to where they are needed most between the Thomas Creek, Brenda Creek, and Nk'Mip Creek wildfires. 

On August 5, the BC Wildfire Service made new recommendations to local authorities regarding downgrades to evacuation alert and order areas based on current fire risk and activity.

Evacuation orders remain in place in the Derenzy Lake and Allandale Lake areas, as the fire remains out of control. 

An investigation into the wildfires cause is still underway. 


(UPDATE: Aug. 7 @ 3:15 pm) – The Thomas Creek wildfire, located 3 kilometres northeast of Okanagan Falls, has grown approximately 479 hectares since Wednesday.

The fire is now estimated to be 10,759 hectares.

Today, there are 53 firefighters, 39 Canadian Armed Forces personnel, 35 support staff, three helicopters and 23 pieces of heavy equipment on site.

The area, much like the rest of the Okanagan Complex, is receiving cooler temperatures and light amounts of precipitation.

Photo Credit: BC Wildfire dashboard

BC Wildfire Service reports that “winds will return to moderate southwesterly flows through the weekend and temperatures will begin to increase.”

Yesterday, crews were successful with a 300 hectare planned ignition in the Derenzy Lake area.

“A column of smoke was visible from Penticton and surrounding areas. This planned ignition was critical in reinforcing a guard line in an effort to gain containment on the fire,” explains BCWS.

Ground crews are supported by helicopters as guards are built along the north flank of the fire.

They will continue to look for opportunities for more planned ignitions in the coming days.

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen rescinded another evacuation alert for 77 properties, effective Aug. 5.


(UPDATE: Aug. 4 @ 1:30 pm): Active fire behaviour and growth continues to be observed along the north flank in the Derenzy and McLean Clan Lake area.

The new size of the wildfire reflects growth observed in those areas and is now estimated to be 10,280 hectares. 

The fire is being managed by an Incident Management Team that has taken on the Okanagan Complex.

There are currently 41 firefighters, 38 military personnel, 23 pieces of heavy equipment, eight danger tree assessors, seven support staff, and three helicopters.

Helicopters are continuing to deliver water along the north flank to ensure the fire does not spread into the drainage north of Christie Mountain.

Crews on the northwest flank of the fire are working to complete a control line by the Christie Drainage to keep the fire from progressing further.

Small hand ignitions along these guards are currently in the works, but will only be conducted if safe conditions allow. This technique is frequently used to remove unburnt fuels along control lines to help further secure the fire perimeter.

The fire still remains under investigation. 


(UPDATE: Aug. 2 @ 11:30 am): Firefighters working the Thomas Creek wildfire have been given a "slight reprieve" by rainfall but are expecting intense conditions to resume soon.

BC Wildfire Service said there were between one and two millimetres of rainfall at the fire on Sunday.

"While that has provided a slight reprieve in fire behaviour, conditions are forecast to return to being warm and dry over the next two days," the agency explained.

Photo credit: BCWS

"The fire and surrounding areas remain under thick smoke conditions. Winds today are forecast to be 10-15 km/hr from the west and northwest, with afternoon gusts of 25-35 km/hr in the afternoon which will increase the drying out of forest fuels from yesterday's precipitation."

The fire remains at an estimated 10,250 hectares and is out of control.

Its cause remains under investigation.

BCWS said it had 27 firefighters dealing with the blaze in its latest update.

They are being supported by four helicopters and 23 pieces of heavy equipment, alongside various specialists.


(UPDATE: July 31 @ 2 pm): BC Wildfire crews continue to fight the Thomas Creek blaze. 

It is now reached 10,250 hectares. It is still classified as out of control. 

"Volatile fire behaviour and growth continues to be observed along the north flank in the Derenzy and McLean Clan Lake area."

"The new size estimate reflects the growth observed in these areas. This growth did not impact the control objectives set out for this flank of the fire."

A total of 21 firefighters, eight danger tree assessors, 36 military personnel, six helicopters and 22 pieces of heavy equipment are on site today. 

NowMedia will update the story when more is available. 


(UPDATE: July 30 @ 10:50 am): The Thomas Creek wildfire continues to grow.

BC Wildfire Service said the blaze grew along its north flank, by McLean Clan Lake.

It's now up to 8,242 hectares. 

It remains out of control and its cause is still being investigated.

"Today will be mainly sunny with smoke and a slight risk of thunderstorms in the afternoon," BCWS explained.

"Saturday will be similar with hot and dry conditions and temperatures again peaking in the high to mid-thirties. A risk of subtropical moisture may bring high-based thunderstorms with dry lightning and gusty winds."

Suppression efforts are expected to be challenged, the agency said, particularly in the north.

Success was recorded along the fire's southern flank yesterday. 

BCWS said crews "made good progress along the south guard and will continue to look for opportunities to complete additional small hand ignitions along these guards."

The agency added: This technique is frequently used to remove unburnt fuels along control lines to help further secure the fire perimeter."

BCWS said the west flank of the fire, meanwhile, remains "very quiet."

"Structure protection systems that were put in place as a precautionary measure have been removed," the agency explained. "Crews will continue to patrol along this flank as required."

In the north, however, "volatile" fire behaviour and growth has been observed.

Crews there continue to prepare potential planned ignitions to "bring the fire down to the established guards north of this flank."

"Given the terrain and fire behaviour along the north flank, planned ignitions are the most effective tactic to aid containment in this area," BCWS explained.

"The objective of the planned ignitions is to bring the fire perimeter down to workable ground where crews can effectively apply water directly to the fires edge."

BCWS said it has 23 firefighters, 33 military personnel, six helicopters and 20 pieces of heavy equipment at the fire.

Various specialists and support staff are also on scene.


(UPDATE: July 28 @ 10:11 am): A small amount of growth has been observed in the Thomas Creek wildfire.

BC Wildfire Service now estimates the blaze to be 7,918.9 hectares.

The fire remains out of control and its cause is still being investigated.

In its latest update, BCWS said it had 17 firefighters, 21 support staff, 33 military personnel, four helicopters and 19 pieces of heavy equipment at the fire.

Click here for the latest evacuation information.


(UPDATE: July 26 @ 5:45 am): The Thomas Creek wildfire grew last night amid heightened fire activity.

BC Wildfire Service said the blaze now measures about 7,279 hectares.

It remains out of control and its cause is still under investigation.

In an update late last night, BCWS said fire behaviour "increased significantly" on Sunday, particularly in the north and northeast. 

Photo credit: BCWS

That caused "significant growth," the agency said.

"This increased fire activity is expected to continue in the coming days as hot, dry and windy conditions will persist," BCWS added.

"No precipitation is anticipated in the near future. These conditions will continue to challenge fire suppression efforts. Safety of crews and the public will remain as the top priority."

Attempts continue to be made to reinforce guard lines in the Christie Mountain area.

BCWS said that's being done "to get ahead of the fire in the north and northeast sections."

On the western flank of the blaze, meanwhile, fire activity has been "relatively quiet." 

Photo credit: BCWS

The 201 road is now secure up to the 13 kilometre mark, BCWS said, but remains unsafe in the northeast portion.

"Crews will gradually widen the safe areas along the road over the coming days, but may be hampered by the expected increase in fire activity," the agency said.

Ninety military personnel will be helping with BCWS's efforts in the coming days.

Last night, the fire was being worked on 45 firefighters, five helicopters and 14 pieces of heavy equipment.

Click here for a map showing the latest perimeter.

Evacuation information related to this fire can be found here.


(UPDATE: July 25 @ 4:45 pm): Crews continue to battle the Thomas Creek wildfire burning in the Kamloops Fire Centre. 

According to the BCWS, the blaze is still at 6,960 hectares. It is classified as out of control. 

Fire behavior has been relatively quiet on the blaze, though it is expected to increase this afternoon. 

The most active part of the fire continues to be the north flank in heavier timber. 

"The fire has now burned into the area of the Christie Mountain Fire, which may result in decreased fire behavior in that area due to a reduction in available fuel. Crews and equipment will be working in the Christie Mountain area to create guard lines using existing roads, old fire guards and other natural features."

"Today crews will patrol the guard line on the west flank and may begin to demobilize equipment in this area."

A total of 45 firefighters, five helicopters and 14 pieces of heavy equipment are on scene today. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. 

NowMedia will update the story when more information is available. 

(UPDATE: July 22 @ 6:31 am): The Thomas Creek wildfire has, as predicted by BC Wildfire Service, grown. 

It's now up to 6,960 hectares.

It remains out of control and its cause is still be investigated.

Last night, an updated area restriction was implemented.

Photo credit: BCWS

BCWS said it made more good progress on the fire yesterday.

But it added: "An increase in winds is predicted through Friday, which may result in elevated fire behaviour and additional fire growth."

Writing yesterday, the agency explained: "Tomorrow, crews will be working to extinguish hotspots along the south east flank. Heavy equipment will be used to build contingency guard lines to the east of the fire."

In its latest update, BCWS said it had 29 firefighters, five helicopters and 19 pieces of heavy equipment working at the fire.


(UPDATE: July 21 @ 12:20 pm): Increased winds could lead to growth at the Thomas Creek wildfire today, according to the BC Wildfire Service (BCWS). 

It comes after a relatively calm day on Tuesday, with fire growth "minimal."

"Crews made good progress yesterday on reinforcing the south flank guard line above properties along the highway," BCWS explained.

Fire activity was most active "in the heavier timber to the north," the agency added.

But speaking about today, it explained: "An increase in winds is predicted for today, which may result in elevated fire behaviour and additional fire growth."

Crews succeeded in establishing a contingency guard in the southeast yesterday.

BCWS teams also defended a wooden bridge from flames on the 201 road.

"The protection of life and property along the south flank will continue as the main priority," BCWS said.

"Work on contingency guard will continue to the north and west."

The blaze remains 6,558 hectares in size and is still out of control. 

Its cause remains under investigation.

In its most recent update, BCWS said it had 29 firefighters, five helicopters and 19 pieces of heavy equipment dealing with the fire.


(UPDATE: July 19 @ 11:50 am): This morning's good news has been dashed with a new update from BC Wildfire Service (BCWS).

The agency said the Thomas Creek wildfire has grown to 6,558 hectares.

It's down to growth at the head of the fire, BCWS explained.

"The protection of life and property along the south flank is the main priority today," the agency explained.


(UPDATE: July 19 @ 9:30 am): The Thomas Creek wildfire is now estimated to be slightly smaller.

More accurate mapping work undertaken on Saturday helped BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) determine that the fire is now at 5,408 hectares, down from 5,500. 

It remains out of control.

Photo credit: BCWS
The fire on Saturday.

In its most recent update, the wildfire service said fire behaviour at the site amounted to a "low to moderately vigorous surface fire."

BCWS said it had also recently worked to complete a contingency guard and contain excursions along the 201 road.

An area restriction remains in place, alongside an evacuation alert.

The fire's cause remains unknown.

BCWS last said there were 23 firefighters, six helicopters and 22 pieces of heavy equipment fighting the blaze.


(UPDATE: July 16 @ 5:33 am): There has been more growth in the Thomas Creek wildfire.

It's now up to 5,500 hectares.

BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) said it remains out of control. 

Its cause is still being investigated.

Evacuation information related to this fire can be found here.

In its most recent update, BCWS said it had 30 firefighters and four helicopters battling the blaze.


(UPDATE: July 15 @ 4:50 pm): The Thomas Creek wildfire remains at 5,000 hectares and is still classified as out of control. 

The City of Penticton is requesting that recreational boaters on Skaha Lake stay away from going near air tankers that are refilling and maintain operational awareness of aircraft at all times.

Ground personnel will continue to work on the west/southwest flank of the fire closest to homes and are assisted by heavy equipment to establish and reinforce fire guards.

Planned ignitions between the fire guard and the fire perimeter will help eliminate available fuels.

There are currently 30 firefighters on scene, working alongside six helicopters and two water tenders.

An evacuation alert remains in place for 704 properties in Electoral Area "D." 

NowMedia will continue to update the story as information is provided. 


(UPDATE: July 15 @ 5:27 am): The Thomas Creek wildfire has now grown to 5,000 hectares, the BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) has said. 

In an update last night the agency said the blaze was "demonstrating aggressive fire behaviour."

An Area Restriction Order was issued yesterday preventing access for most people in the vicinity of the fire.

Photo credit: BCWS
The fire viewed from Summerland.

Hundreds of homes remain under evacuation alert due to the fire.

BCWS said yesterday it had 33 firefighters at the scene, alongside six helicopters and several pieces of heavy equipment.

"Due to the winds in the area, smoke is very visible from Penticton to Vernon," the agency added.

"This fire will remain highly visible over the next few days while BC Wildfire Service continues to respond."


(UPDATE: July 14 @ 5:37 am): The Thomas Creek wildfire is now estimated to be 1,500 hectares in size.

A map detailing evacuation information can be found here.

The fire remains out of control.

Its cause is under investigation.

BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) said in its most recent update that 30 firefighters, six helicopters and multiple pieces of heavy equipment were engaged in fighting the blaze.

Four personnel stayed overnight to monitor the fire.

In a summary of its activities, BCWS wrote: "Ground personnel will continue to work on the west flank of the fire closest to homes and are assisted by heavy equipment to establish and reinforce fire guards.

"Planned ignitions between the fire guard and the fire perimeter will help eliminate available fuels."


(UPDATE: July 13 @ 5:48 am): The estimated size of the Thomas Creek wildfire has increased.

BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) said the blaze is now up to 900 hectares.

"The size increase is attributed to more accurate mapping this evening as visibility increased," BCWS explained.

It remains out of control.

The evacuation order issued for 77 properties on Sunday has now been rescinded and replaced with an evacuation alert.

Another 627 properties remain under an alert.

"BC Wildfire Service and the RDOS EOC are actively assessing the situation and should conditions deteriorate, evacuation orders may be issued for affected residents," the regional district explained.

The fire's cause remains under investigation.

According to BCWS's latest update, there are 33 personnel responding to the fire.

Helicopters, heavy equipment and local firefighters are also assisting. 

BCWS said personnel remained at the site overnight.


(UPDATE: July 12 @ 1:20 pm): According to wildfire officer Kim Janowsky during a noon RDOS Emergency Operations Centre Information Session, firefighting crews had a "very successful evening" battling the Thomas Creek blaze just east of Okanagan Falls.

Photo Credit: NowMedia

However, smoke is so thick that BC Wildfire can't get an accurate read on its current size.

"When I flew the fire yesterday, it was approximately 200 hectares," said Janowsky.

"It grew substantially overnight, but because of smoke conditions I haven't been able to get up to have a look at it today.

"But we had a very successful evening. We had crews working all throughout the evening. They were tasked with putting in some burn operations behind the property. So we had containment lines established by heavy equipment and they went in and were completely getting rid of the fuels from the containment line and then had it burn up into where the main fire was."

Photo Credit: NowMedia

"That all went very well. There were no excursions over the line and so we're very thankful it went as well as it did."

At this hour, crews are on the ground continuing to "mop up and patrol" the fire, which is generally traveling in a southeasterly direction, away from the town of Okanagan Falls.

"In support, we have three helicopters bucketing the perimeter," said Janowsky. "That will be continuing throughout the day. It'll probably take us a couple days to get that containment line in the east side."

He also tried to assuage concerns over Sunday evening's seemingly more intense fire activity.

Photo Credit: NowMedia

"People may have seen the burn operations last night," said Janowsky. "That's all part and parcel with the way we fight these fires, and the reason is to eliminate the fuel between the containment lines we establish. If we don’t do that, it has more potential of escaping."

Janowsky also emphasized that the fire, as of Sunday afternoon, was considered extremely serious.

"(Yesterday afternoon) it was in the upper ranks of our fire ranking system," he said. "Our system goes from one to six. The behaviour was rated a five yesterday afternoon."

Photo Credit: NowMedia

RDOS Area D director Ron Obirek was quick to praise the efforts of firefighting crews on and off the ground.

"Based on what I know," he said, "I just think they've had fantastic success. They had a fast response. The evacuation of the 77 properties. They were successful in keeping all structures confirmed as safe overnight, and efforts were made to help people with their livestock.

"The response was quick and in terms of outcomes right now, it's a very good outcome."


(UPDATE: July 12 @ 5:14 am): The Thomas Creek wildfire has grown to 500 hectares.

BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) said in its latest update last night that the fire remains out of control.

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) issued an evacuation order for 77 properties and an evacuation alert for 600 more in Electoral Area D.

Photo credit: RDOS

A state of local emergency has also been declared by RDOS.

The fire's cause remains unknown.

Photo credit: Darcia Harcott
The fire on Sunday.

BCWS said last night that eight firefighters and two helicopters were fighting the blaze.

"Crews will remain on this incident overnight," the agency added.


(Original story: July 11 @ 6:43 pm): An aerial battle is ongoing this hour as crews fight the newly formed Thomas Creek wildfire in the McLean Creek Road region just east of Okanagan Falls.

Photo Credit: NowMedia

According to BC Wildfire, which as of 5:45 Sunday afternoon classified it as out of control, the blaze was first reported at 1:30 pm. It is currently 100 hectares in size.

Photo Credit: NowMedia

From our vantage point near the old Weyerhaeuser site in the hills directly to the east of OK Falls, PentictonNow witnessed a serious air assault mid-afternoon.

Photo Credit: NowMedia

Involved were helicopters, at least two Conair Convair air tankers, two RJ85 air tankers and an "air attack" (birddog) target identifying aircraft. A fleet of smaller "skimmers" also arrived at approximately 5 pm.

Photo Credit: NowMedia

BC Wildfire reports "heavy ground equipment" is also on site for a fire they suspect is human caused.

Photo Credit: NowMedia

The fire began on the west side of a bluff just east of Peach Cliff, which towers over the town of OK Falls. Prevailing southern winds quickly expanded its size.  

Photo Credit: NowMedia

Traffic into the area is being rerouted. Roadblocks were set up on McLean Creek Road (at Maple Street, near downtown) and again where Maple Creek Road intersects with Eastside Road several kilometers north.

Photo Credit: NowMedia

We'll have more when the situation warrants it.

Photo Credit: NowMedia

Photo Credit: NowMedia

Photo Credit: NowMedia

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