Friday at noon, an area evacuation order was initiated for the vicinity of the wildfire area, restricting people without authorization from traveling within mapped geographical boundaries. (BC Wildfire Service Photo)

UPDATE: Christie Mountain wildfire still burning out of control

The wildfire now stands at 2,035.0 hectares and 170 firefighters remain on scene

The Christie Mountain wildfire saw minimal growth in size over Saturday night, but is still spreading in all directions and is considered out of control.

The wildfire has grown 35.0 hectares overnight, which Nicole Bonnet, information officer with Wildfire Service, said was to be expected during the City of Penticton’s noon press conference on Saturday. The wildfire now stands at 2,035.0 hectares in size.

Residents of 3,669 properties are still on evacuation alert. As for when evacuation alert and orders might be lifted, more information will come in the next few days.

“Until I’m satisfied that we’ve met the objectives and established lines that really do control those measures from those ember transplants and we’ve hardened the homes and fire-smarted them to the point of where we can allow residents back in is when we will decide,” said Penticton fire chief Larry Watkinson. “Unlikely tonight.”

The atmosphere was stable on site of the fire yesterday, according to BC Wildfire Services. Fire behavior was minimal for most of the day yesterday but started to increase on the southeast flank. The fire is burning in difficult rocky and sloped terrain with limited access points for ground crews and heavy equipment.

READ MORE: Crews battle fire alongside Coquihalla Highway

170 firefighters, 16 helicopters, 8 heavy equipment and 40 firefighters worked overnight with support from multiple fire departments and structure protection personnel.

Today, 170 firefighters will work on-site in conjunction with structure protection personnel and multiple fire departments. They will continue to build upon the ongoing progress on the southwest flank of the fire strengthening control lines for values protection. They will be supported by 16 helicopters and four water tenders. Crews continue to work on access points and contingency lines on the north and east flanks with eight pieces of machinery in the heavy equipment group.

“We did a lot of work in advance, we raised the humidity around these homes and we haven’t seen any other ignitions other than small brushes that we’ve been able to clean up,” said Watkinson.

“In fact, there have been fires burned right up to the lines we’ve established that have not ignited the structures.”

Crews continue to reinforce control lines at Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park and are looking for potential areas for small burn out opportunities. They continue to make great progress on the southwest flank of the fire building and strengthening control lines for values protection.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation and the evacuation order is still in effect.

READ MORE: VIDEO: Salmon Arm residents offer words of support to Penticton during Christie Mountain wildfire


Daniel Taylor
Reporter, Kelowna Capital News
Email me at daniel.taylor@kelownacapnews.com
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