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UPDATE: Twin Lakes wildfire grows over 740 hectares as hundreds remain evacuated

The ‘aggressive’ Upper Park Rill Creek wildfire continues to rapidly grow west of Okanagan Falls
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The fire near Twin Lakes has already led to evacuation orders for residents. (Penticton Western News)

UPDATE: 6:20 p.m.

The Upper Park Rill Creek wildfire located west of Okanagan Falls more than doubled in size late Friday afternoon and now sits at 740 hectares, according to BC Wildfire Service.

A total of 257 properties remain on evacuation order within a trio of Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen electoral areas (Rural Oliver, Rural Keremeos and Kaleden and Apex).

An additional 246 properties are still under evacuation alert.

Its suspected cause is now listed as human-caused.

The blaze was an estimated 350 hectares in size by mid-afternoon, Aug. 18.

BCWS says it is located 10 kilometres west of Okanagan Falls and rapidly growing near Twin Lakes.

UPDATE: 2 p.m.:

The Upper Park Rill Creek wildfire located west of Okanagan Falls has grown to more than 350 hectares, with hundreds of properties still on order to evacuate.

BC Wildfire Service says crews have shifted their focus to structure protection, as the blaze continues to grow rapidly near Twin Lakes.

A total of 257 properties remain on evacuation order within the following RDOS areas:

• Electoral Area “C” west of 99th and 97th Streets, Upper Fairview Road, area west of Willowbrook

• Electoral Area “G” one large property west of Grand Oro Road Area

• Electoral Area “I” on Green Lake Road

An additional 244 properties within the RDOS are on evacuation alert.

It is located about 10 kilometres west of Okanagan Falls and BCWS now categorizes it as a wildfire of note.

Shaelee Stearns from BCWS said in an update that a dry cold front, as well as gusty winds moving across the province, is contributing to the fire’s “aggressive behaviour.”

“This has been an aggressive new start and we’ve seen substantial growth upon the discovery of this fire,” Stearns said.

Four initial attack crews and three helicopters are currently on scene. Crews say it is located about 10 kilometres of Okanagan Falls.

The RDOS did not confirm its cause and says it is under investigation.

UPDATE: 11 A.M.:

The community of Willowbrook is now being ordered to evacuate from the growing threat of the Upper Park Rill Creek wildfire.

The wildfire is now over 100 hectares in size as it continues to rapidly grow.

Properties in Area C (Rural Oliver) including Willowbrook, Madden Lake and Ripley Lake areas have been ordered to evacuate, and two more properties in Rural Keremeos on Grand Oro Road have been added to the list.

If you are on evacuation order, leave immediately.

UPDATE 10 A.M.:

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen has declared states of local emergency in two more of its electoral areas due to the quickly growing fire near Twin Lakes.

The Upper Park Rill Creek Fire is now estimated at more than 30 hectares in size.

Properties are now under evacuation order in three electoral areas due to the fire:

• Electoral Area C (Rural Oliver) addresses on Yellowbrick Road and Willowbrook Road

• Electoral Area G (Rural Keremeos) properties on Grand Oro Road

• Electoral Area I (Kaleden and Apex) Grand Oro Road east along to White Lake Road

People under evacuation order must leave immediately.

RCMP are assisting in expediting the evacuations.

Emergency Support Services are active and a reception centre has been set up at 199 Ellis Street in Penticton. Register online at ess.gov.bc.ca for support services and for ESS Support by phone, call 250-486-1890.

If people need transportation assistance, call RDOS EOC: 250-490-4225

People evacuating are asked if possible to stay with family or friends due to a shortage of commercial and hotel accommodation.

Take pets with you if you can. Do not turn off your natural gas, FortisBC will turn off natural gas service as needed.

Close all windows and doors and close gates (latch) but do not lock them.

The evacuation orders include the Dominion Radio Astrological Observatory.

READ MORE: Shelter for evacuated Okanagan pets available

ORIGINAL STORY:

RCMP are currently expediting evacuations of residents in Twin Lakes because of a new wildfire on Friday.

The fire was reported shortly after 6 a.m. on Aug. 18, and by 7 a.m. the BC Wildfire Service had already updated its size to over 14 hectares.

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen confirmed via email that evacuations are currently taking place with RCMP on scene to assist.

The Penticton Fire Department is currently providing aid to Twin Lake fire crews.

READ MORE: OKANAGAN WILDFIRES: What you need to know for Friday, Aug. 18

Residents are being asked to stay out of the area.

The cause of the fire is suspected to be caused by human activity.

Helicopters were seen in the area dropping water on the fire.

This is a developing story. More information to come.

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

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Brennan Phillips

About the Author: Brennan Phillips

Brennan was raised in the Okanagan and is thankful every day that he gets to live and work in one of the most beautiful places in Canada.
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