Updated: No structures impacted by fire in Joe Rich

Blaze is out of control while evacuation is underway for Joe Rich east of Kelowna

Update: 9:09 p.m.

According to the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations no structures have been impacted by the wildfire burning in Joe Rich.

The evacuation order will remain in place for a large section of Joe Rich until it can be revised tomorrow morning.

The Emergency Support Services reception centre set up at the Willow Park Church, 439 Highway 33, will close at 10:00 p.m.

Overnight structural firefighters from five Central Okanagan departments and ten other fire departments from across the Okanagan and Interior will monitor the blaze and put out any hotspots.

Local fire crews are supported by BC Wildfire Service.

The next planned update from the Emergency Operations Centre will be after 8:00 a.m. tomorrow.

———

Update: 7:36 p.m.

The fire in Joe Rich is now estimated to be 380 hectares in size and is currently being classified as out of control.

According to the B.C. Wildfire Service, local fire department personnel are on site, and the wildfire service is responding with firefighters as well as airtanker and helicopter support.

The cause of this wildfire is currently under investigation. Fire origin and cause investigators are en route to the scene.

There are structures are in the vicinity of this wildfire and the Central Okanagan Regional District has issued an evacuation order for residences in the area. More information is available at: www.cordemergency.ca

Smoke from this wildfire is highly visible from the communities of Joe Rich and Kelowna, as well as other surrounding areas.

There is currently a closure on Highway 33 as a result of the wildfire.

Update: 5:04 p.m.

The wildfire in Joe Rich continues to grow and is now estimated at 300 hectares in size.

The Emergency Support Services reception centre, at Willow Park Church, is now open to assist the estimated 1,100 people on evacuation order.

Volunteers with the ALERT organization are helping those residents, who have been evacuated, with their domestic animals.

The Evacuation Order affects 474 properties from the western boundary of the City of Kelowna to Big White Road and Mission and Joe Rich creeks along the south.

Witnesses are reporting seeing fire departments from the North Okanagan, including Salmon Arm and Vernon, responding to the blaze in Joe Rich.

Update: 3:45 p.m.

The Joe Rich blaze is now estimated at 150 hectares in size and burning out of control.

Six firefighters, four helicopters plus air support are on scene along with local fire crews.

According to BC Wildfire Service the nearest structure is 3 kilometres from the blaze.

Update 3:05 p.m.

The RCMP says it is actively performing emergency tactical evacuations of residents in the Joe Riche area due to thea wildfire burning on the north side of Highway 33 East outside of Kelowna.

The RCMP is now executing emergency evacuation orders for the following areas:

Goudie Road;

Huckleberry Road;

Daves Road;

Goshawk Road;

Hawk Road;

Falcon Road;

Falconridge Crescent;

Sun Valley Road;

Cardinal Creek Road;

Peregrine Road;

Philpott Forest Service Road;

Three Forks Road;

Thelwell Road;

Greystokes Road;

Dion Road; and

Schram Road;

In order to ensure public safety and the ability for emergency crews to access the area, RCMP have closed Highway 33 East in both directions between Goudie Road and Schram Road. RCMP ask that the public avoid the area and plan a different route in order to assist in the safe evacuation of all affected residents.

Updates to be provided as they become available. Further information to follow from the Central Okanagan Regional District’s Emergency Operations Centre website.

Update 3:05 p.m.

The fire burning in Joe Rich is now 40 hectares in size and burning out of control.

BC Wildfire Service has an initial attack crew on the ground as well as air support, to assist local fire departments.

There are structures in the vicinity by forestry says none are immediately threatened.

A fire investigation team is on route to the scene to determine the cause of the blaze.

——

Update 3 p.m. Aug. 24:

The Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre says it has been activated to support fire crews fighting a spreading wildfire in the Joe Rich area.

In a news release just issued it, it says an evacuation is underway for properties from Cardinal Creek Road to the eastern boundary of the Regional District. Properties east of Greystokes Road must evacuate via McCulloch Road. A detailed map will be available showing affected properties at www.cordemergency.ca.

All properties west of Cardinal Creek Road are on evacuation alert and should be prepared to leave on short notice should conditions change.

An Emergency Support Services reception centre is being established at Willow Park church on Highway 33 in Kelowna. It will be open to help residents starting at 5:00 pm.

Highway 33 is closed at Cardinal Creek Road as ground and air crews are involved in fighting the blaze that was reported shortly after 1:30 p.m. this afternoon.

New information will be released as soon as it becomes available.

Emergency response personnel request that the public:

• Avoid the Highway 33 areaso emergency responders can effectively perform their duties

• Monitor cordemergency.ca for confirmed information about the situation

• Only call 9-1-1 in case of an emergency

Monitor cordemergency.ca, facebook.com/CORDEmergency or twitter.com/CO_Emerg for confirmed information about the situation

Update: 2:40 p.m. Aug 24:

Central Okanagan East regional district director Patty Hanson says she is concerned about the lack of fire hydrants in the area for fire fighting, limited resources the fact that some drivers are still throwing cigarette butts out the windows of their vehicles.

“It’s so dry out here,” said Hanson, at the scene of Thursday’s fire near Philpott Road.

Hanson most of the people in the area get their water from wells.

“There is a grave concern for the entire community,” she said.

Another woman said she is concerned about a campground in the area and anyone who may be there.

Rutland resident Tammy Kasper, who is also at the scene, said she is also very worried about and elderly friend who lives in the area close to the fire. She said the woman has mobility issues.

“At this point I’m just really really worried about here,” said Kasper.

She said she had not been able to contact her by phone yet.

Meanwhile, there are reports a lone female hiker is possibly trapped one kilometre from Philpott Road on High Rim Trail.

Firecrews are heading there to investigate.

Update: 2:30 p.m. Aug 24:

Some residents are concerned about their horses in the rural area where the fire is located. They are worried because they cannot get to their animals to lead them to safety. The wind is blowing strong in the area and there is a lot of smoke. The helicopters are now overhead.

Traffic is being let out of the area as the evacuated residents leave. The fire is believed to be moving west.

Update: 2:15 p.m. Aug 24:

The Capital News has a reporter on site.

An evacuation of the area around Philpott Road area is now underway, according to the fire department. Residents of the area are worried, traffic is backing up and there have been a number of near traffic accidents as people move out of the area.

One man said he plans to just jump in his truck and get out of the area as quickly as possible.

Update: 2 p.m. Aug 24:

Emergency crews say they will have to evacuate the entire area around Philpott Road as the fire continues to grow.

Described by one firefighter as a “massive” fire that will require the fire department to “throw everything we have it,” B.C. Wildfire crews and forestry crews are being called, in as well as air support.

Highway 33 at Cardinal Creek is closed.

Two helicopters and a fixed wing tanker are on their way.

Original story:

Emergency crews are responding to a bush fire on Highway 33 and Philpott Road near the community of Joe Rich just east of Kelowna.

Early reports have a fire burning on both sides of Philpott Road and emergency crews are requesting air tanker assistance as well as RCMP who have been asked to possibly close Highway 33.

Crews from the Kelowna and Joe Rich Fire Department are responding. According to reports, the BC Wildfire Service has also been called in and there are indications that residents living along Philpott Road may need to be evacuated.

The fire is said to be about 100 metres wide and 500 metres up the hill and moving fast.

The Capital News has sent a reporter to the scene and we will provide more information as it becomes available.

 

The fire near Philpott Road is described as “massive” and is forcing an evacuation of the area.—Image credit Carli Berry

The out-of-control fire near Philpott Road, 20 kilometres east of Kelowna, is described as massive and has forced an evacuation of the area.—Image credit: Barry Gerding/CapitalNews

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