Bear Creek Wildfire Forces Evacuations In West Kelowna Area

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WEST KELOWNA, B.C. — Officials say cooler temperatures have helped British Columbia crews battling a wildfire that forced the evacuation of dozens of properties above the northwestern shore of Okanagan Lake.

The Bear Creek wildfire broke out late Sunday evening, near Bear Creek Provincial Park, and within hours the Central Okanagan Regional District ordered the evacuation of 156 properties.

Cooler weather helped stem the fire's growth Monday and crews had the blaze 30 per cent contained by the afternoon, said fire information officer Melissa Klassen with the B.C. Wildfire Service.

About 50 provincial crews were working with local departments to fight the fire, which was estimated to be about 52 hectares in size, Klassen said.

A news release issued by the regional district Monday said no homes had been lost, but some sheds or outbuildings may have been damaged about 10 kilometres north of West Kelowna.

About 60 people from the evacuated area had registered at an emergency reception centre in West Kelowna by Monday morning.

The evacuation zone covered the provincial park campground, a subdivision and homes along Bear Creek Road.

Fourteen properties in a second subdivision were under evacuation alert and a section of Westside Road was closed until further notice.

The evacuation order remained in place Monday afternoon, but the regional district said in a news release that the RCMP and campground staff would escort campers into the site Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning to quickly retrieve their possessions, including trailers and vehicles.

Another Okanagan fire, at the south end of Skaha Lake, about 80 kilometres south of Kelowna, also caused concern late Sunday.

Residents of Okanagan Falls watched as flames edged toward homes in the community of about 2,500, but light winds and showers provided an edge for local firefighters and a wildfire service crew.

The wildfire service said the 16 hectare blaze had been 75-per-cent contained by afternoon.

Fire danger ratings across most of southern British Columbia climbed over the weekend to high, with many pockets in the Okanagan ranked as extreme.

Environment Canada forecast a return to hot, dry conditions by Tuesday.