Several properties are on evacuation alert because of a wildfire burning north of Oliver in the Gallagher Lake area. (Photo courtesy of BC Wildfire)

Raptors evacuated due to threatening Okanagan wildfire

Properties on evac alert due to Eagle Bluff wildfire, located north of Oliver in the Gallagher Lake

Instead of a summer breeze wafting through his open window on Sunday night, Michael Walker got the rude awakening of wildfire smoke coming through his Deer Park Estates home, located north of Oliver.

It was around 10 p.m. and Walker said he rushed to the window of his home in Gallagher Lake to see what was happening.

“There is was, the fire was unbelievable and we could see it travelling around the transformer wires,” said Walker. “Trees were candling and it appeared the wind was blowing the flames down the mountain. I am guessing it was maybe 500 feet from (Highway 97). We were praying for daylight so the helicopters would come out and put down some water.”

READ MORE: More personnel dispatched to wildfire north of Oliver

Walker, who lives directly across from where the Eagle Bluff wildfire was burning the mountainside and has the highway separating his residence from the fire, said when he woke up in the morning it was like a “mushroom cloud” of wildfire smoke was sitting still above the area.

By 2:30 a.m. the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen emergency operations centre issued an evacuation alert for several properties in Area C. The wildfire, now estimated at 120 hectares, will have up to 90 BC Wildfire personnel working on it Monday with air support. Many reports from people living in the area are stating the bulk of fire suppression this morning seems to be concentrated on the other side of the mountain.

READ MORE: Evacuation alert issued for properties near Gallagher Lake wildfire

Among the properties is on evacuation alert, with its inhabitants on edge is the South Okanagan Rehabilitation Centre for Owls (SORCO). Dale Belvedere, manager, said she was told that those working on the fire are concerned it could jump a creek right at the bottom of the hill and that they should be ready to leave at a moments notice.

Belvedere made the decision to evacuate all the birds on Sunday evening as the flames on the mountainside jumped dramatically around under nightfall.

“It was unbelievable. It puts the fear of god into you. We have a protocol should this ever occur and that is if humans become in jeopardy we have to let all the birds fly off. This was going through my head all night but then volunteers started showing up and getting them caged up properly to be transported,” she said, pausing as a helicopter with a bucket of water flew overhead. “Honestly, this has always been a fear of mine with this property. We have done all we can on the property, cutting branches and raking pine needles up, but there is always that fear. Unfortunately, we are living it right now and we are keeping our fingers crossed.”

The cause of the fire has not been officially determined by BC Wildfire.

“The sight and sound of it was incredible last night. I don’t even know how to explain it. We could see it was difficult terrain they were working on last night and they had to pull out at one point because FortisBC transformers blew up. It was this massive explosion then you could see a big red inferno,” said Belvedere.

While some of the SORCO birds are with volunteers, most of the 30 Burrowing Owls are being transported to the BC Wildlife Park in Kamloops.

Walker, who was driving south towards Osoyoos when contacted, said the smoke that sat like a mushroom cloud this morning had been hit with a breeze. Smoke is also wafting in from a wildfire south of the border in Washington State. He said the smoke was so thick it was starting to make the mountains disappear. His biggest concern though is for his neighbour across the highway in Country Pines.

“It looked like they might be in some trouble. There is a lot of pine trees there and manufactured homes that seem to be on high alert because there was a lot of activity in the park when we drove by,” said Walker. “I really hope they get this thing under control, all I can say right now is thank-you firemen for doing your job.”

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


@PentictonNews
newstips@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Lexi Bainas Column: A whole sackful of entertainment goodies for you this week

From roistering at Red Arrow to the quiet of the concert hall to solving mysteries, you get it all

Cowichan trio helps BC to gold at rugby westerns

Team BC wins gold in U18 boys, bronze in U18 girls division

Sarah Simpson Column: Sticks and stones will burst our pockets…

Over the weekend my family of four joined my mom and step-dad… Continue reading

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

B.C. VIEWS: Pipelines set to roll as federal politicians posture

Projects to drive B.C., Canadian economy in years ahead

B.C. Lions fall to 1-9 after 13-10 loss to Ticats

Lowly Leos have dropped six straight CFL contests

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

B.C. man who died after rescuing swimmer was known for helping others

Shaun Nugent described as a dad, a coach, a hero and ‘stand-up guy’ at celebration of life

B.C. RCMP plane chases fleeing helicopter as part of major cross-border drug bust

The helicopter eventually landed at a rural property near Chilliwack

Vancouver Island man dead after reported hit-and-run incident

Oceanside RCMP seek public’s help gathering information

Thousands cycle to conquer cancer

The 11th annual Ride to Conquer Cancer took place Saturday morning, Aug. 24 in Surrey, B.C.

PHOTOS: Brazil military begins operations to fight Amazon fires

Amazon fires have become a global issue, escalating tensions between Brazil and European countries

Most Read