Osoyoos Indian Band declares a state of emergency after fire grows overnight

A grass fire sparked yesterday afternoon in Oliver B.C. and the surrounding area is now contained while two hundred more fires continue to burn across the province.

The Osoyoos Indian Band (OIB) declared a state of emergency after more than a dozen homes were evacuated because of a grass fire Sunday night, while around 200 fires continue to burn across the province.

The evacuation order was issued by Chief Clarence Louie on July 4 and is set to remain in force for seven days until July 10. 

“Due to the threat of interface fire in Osoyoos Indian Band, and because of the potential danger to life, heath and property damage, the Osoyoos Indian Band has issued an Evacuation Alert for the following properties,” according to the Osoyoos Indian Band Emergency Operations Center

Oliver Fire Chief Bob Graham says a grass fire started in Oliver B.C., around 4 p.m., on the east side of Tucelnuit Drive.

The fire was classified as “out of control,” he tells IndigiNews. “Forestry reported it to be 45 hectares.”

Residents were ordered to leave their homes immediately, as the fire spread rapidly across the valley. BC Wildfire Service, the Oliver Fire Department and air bomber helicopters quickly began battling the flames to gain control.

By 8p.m., Sunday evening, the Oliver Fire Department confirmed the fire to be contained and residents were able to return to their homes.  The cause of the fire is unknown at this time, as an investigation is ongoing. 

“There was one house damaged by fire,” Graham says, “Those people have been looked after by emergency social services.”

There was no risk of a fire at this point and forestry crews are still on scene within the fire area, according to Graham. 

Currently, there are around 197 active fires, according to the BC Wildfire Service, with one of the worst devastating the village of Lytton, killing two people.

A heatwave warning remains in place as temperatures across the province reached an all-time heat record this month.

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