Travel warning issued for northern Okanagan ahead of extreme wildfire conditions

Due to growing evacuation concerns, the Government of British Columbia has issued a plea to stay away from certain northern Okanagan communities.

Wildfire smoke obscures a viewpoint at the BC Interior Forestry Museum. Photo: Bailey Gingras-Hamilton

As another heatwave spikes forecasted wildfire activity, the B.C. government has issued a travel warning for parts of the northern Okanagan region.

Armstrong, Spallumcheen, Enderby, and the Okanagan Indian Band are among the communities affected by the Aug. 13 announcement. Ahead of forecasted high temperatures and wind, the province is preparing for new evacuation orders and alerts.

A map details the areas affected by the northern Okanagan travel warning. Photo: EmergencyInfo BC

“We’re taking this proactive step because we want to ensure people in these communities are able to evacuate if necessary, access the supports they need, as well as the safety of our firefighters on the ground,” says Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General.

According to a release from the province, this weekend will be critical for firefighting efforts and emergency responders; a statement echoed by B.C. Wildfire Services this afternoon.

Multiple wildfires of note, including the White Rock Lake and Mckay Creek fires, have forced residents to evacuate. The advisory also notes the increased demand for accommodation during evacuation efforts, and that non-essential travel strains available lodging.

Two long-term care facilities face precautionary evacuation

As evacuation alerts expand throughout the Interior, two long-term care facilities have evacuated all residents as a precautionary measure.

The affected care facilities are in Armstrong and Lillooet. Threatened by the White Lake Rock wildfire, residents of Pleasant Valley Manor in Armstrong are being temporarily relocated to care homes in Vancouver Coastal Health and Providence Health.

In Lillooet, residents of Mountainview Lodge are being evacuated due to the nearby Mckay Creek wildfire. Evacuees will also be relocated to facilities in the Vancouver Coastal Health region. To confirm the location of anyone displaced by these evacuations, call 1-877-442-2001.

Staying safe through another heatwave

As some vulnerable citizens are evacuated, others are facing a weekend of hazardous weather. Interior Health issued another heatwave warning on Aug. 11, which is expected to last until Aug. 15.

Checking on vulnerable populations is critical for preventing heat-related illness and death. Seniors are particularly affected, especially if they live alone and/or without air conditioning. As smoke forces windows closed, the combination of poor air quality and high temperatures significantly increases the risk of illness.

To learn more heatwave safety tips, and how to protect vulnerable populations, check out this official Interior Health bulletin.

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Bailey Gingras-Hamilton is a recent graduate of the Mount Royal University Journalism program, where she developed an interest in current events and social issues. As a chronically curious individual, she enjoys exploring new places, cuisines, and cultures.