Terrace Mountain Fire New Evacuations; Mt McLean Fire at Lillooet
New evacuations have been ordered for 1,200 people in Kelowna, BC, Saturday, August 1, due to increasing threat from the Terrace Mountain fire that began July 18, 2009.
Earlier on Saturday the fire was reported to be 90 percent contained, covering approximately 4,500 hectares of ground.
According to fire information officer Isabelle Jacques, the small town of Lillooet in the BC Interior is also in danger, from a wildfire on Mount McLean. The fire progressed down the mountain of dry trees up to within one kilometer of Lillooet, whose 2,300 residents have been on evacuation alert since Thursday, July 30.
"The fire is approaching the town," fire information officer Isabelle Jacques said in an interview this afternoon. "This is a critical situation; we’ve never seen conditions so hot and so dry."
The Mount McLean fire is zero percent contained and now covers approximately 2,700 hectares, burning at amazing speed. A controlled burn conducted by fire officers saw trees destroyed in less than 30 seconds.
This is the worst fire season in British Columbia history to date, with 85 percent of the province on "high or extreme fire warning", according to the Vancouver Sun. Converging winds, lightning, and a recent heat wave combined to ignite 171 fires on July 30 alone, including a fire on Blackcomb Mountain at Whistler.
Firefighting forces now include 60 firefighters, 15 helicopters, and 8 units of heavy equipment. There are an additional 40 people involved in back-up and 17 involved in structural danger and control assessment of the fires.
On July 25, 2009, a water bomber pilot crashed into Okanagan Lake while fighting the Terrace Mountain fire.