Some things just need to be said...

Friday, August 12, 2005

Wildfire near Oliver BC

August 13, 2005 Update 8:05 pm

The evacuation alert has been removed for people in the Oliver area. The fire has not grown and ground crews have made good progress with the assistance of helicopters dropping fire retardant on hot spots.

With cooler weather progress should continue.

August 12, 2005 Update 5:pm

NDP critic Bob Simpson says to complaints by the media that they were left out of the loop for 90 minutes Wednesday when an evacuation alert was issued for 54 homes near Oliver was a clear breach of the Filmon recomendations.

Simpson said it was essential that evacuation orders go out early and everyone is notified, including the media.

The Provincial Emergency Coordination Centre insists the public was notified immediately after an evacuation alert was signed by officials in the Oliver area. This is clearly wrong as the Diane Shepard did not hear about the evacuation alert until almost two hours after it was issued. She and her neighbours were listening to local radio for news in the event an evacuation order or alert was issued.

The Map to the right shows the fire boundary in red and the city of Oliver in green. You can see a larger copy on the BC Forest Service webpage here.

PEP did not tell Media about Alert!

Some people did not know of the evacuation alert near Oliver for two hours after it was issued. The Provincial Emergency Program refused to tell the media of the alert. One woman Diane Shepard told CBC radio this morning that she did not learn of the alert until almost 5pm when someone came to her door. The alert was issued at 3pm.

PEP had not advised local media that an alert had been issued. Shepard was not happy with this, saying she had been listening to local radio in the event an alert was issued. She went on to say that she was concerned about the fire and was expecting some kind of alert to issued. Its not good enough Shepard said.

The 2003 fire season in the Okanagan indicated that the use of local media outlets in getting important information out to people was the most effective way to do so. At this time we do not know why the PEP refused to provide the information to the media.

Lets hope the evacution order if it does come, is not held back!

The Oliver fire is now over 500ha in size. The fire is still not contained, though most of the spread has been to the east and north, away from Oliver and the homes under evaucation alert

See Castanet's update here. Politics in BC beat them by two hours with this information.


Update: August 10

The two top pictures were taken this evening. You can see the smoke is blowing to the east and is low over the landscape of the fire. The wind is still blowing but at least it is blowing away from the
community of Oliver at this time.

The fire is still burning well. These two pictures were taken about 9pm this evening.

The forest service has 51 firefighters,
10 helicopters, 5 pieces of heavy equipment and 8 airtankers working this fire. Early this evening some of the airtankers were diverted to take on a 6 ha fire near OK Falls near Skaha Lake. That action helped keep the fire down while ground and helicopter action went to work. The fire is now fully contained and crews are mopping up.

March 10, Oliver Fire...

The fire just east of Oliver has taken a turn for the worse. Evacuation alerts have been issued.

Both the
Okanagan-Similkameen Regional District and the Osoyoos Indian Band have issued evacuation alerts for residents in the following area near Oliver South boundary: Inkaneep Creek East boundary: easterly boundary of District Lot 1048 North boundary: 10.5 km east of McAlpine Bridge West boundary: 1.7 km east of Town of Oliver and Osoyoos Indian Band boundary The evacuation alert covers approximately 13 homes on the Osoyoos Indian Band reserve and approximately 41 homes in the local residential sub-division of Shrike Hill and the McCuddy Creek Ranch area.

The McKinney Road Fire is located on the Nk'Mip First Nations land (Osoyoos Indian Reserve) east of Oliver approximately 4.5 km east on the north side of McKinney Road. As of this morning, the fire has covered 400 hectares (1,000 acres) in size.

There are three key stages in the evacuation process:

1. Evacuations Alert: A warning is issued about an imminent threat to life and property and people in the defined area should be ready to leave on short notice.
2. Evacuation Order: When an evacuation order is issued, people should leave the area immediately.
3. Evacuation Rescind: People under an evacuation order may return. An evacuation order or alert may be reinstated if a threat returns.

The new evacuation order comes with afternoon winds picking up. The fire continues to grow and the evacuation is signs that it has potential threaten nearby communities. As always the evacuation Alert is provided to allow people as much possible notice of a need to evacuate. If you have things of value, now is the time to have them packed and in the car.

There is a reception centre now open in the Oliver Community Hall. Residents in the affected area can obtain further information through this web site or through an information line established in the Oliver Emergency Operations Centre. The phone number is (250) 498-6528.

Link to map of evacuation order here

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Photo Credits: Carol Barnes
Used with permission

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