Residents of Peachland in British Columbia’s Okanagan region find themselves on the brink of evacuation as the rampant Glen Lake wildfire progresses ominously close to the district. The fire, ignited by human activity on the past Saturday, originally emerged 15 kilometers from Peachland. However, within a span of two days, the blaze has halved the distance making its proximity dangerously close.
The Glen Lake wildfire has amplified alarmingly from a relatively controlled 100 hectares on Sunday to a menacing 650 hectares by Monday afternoon. The severity and swift progression of the situation led the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations to issue evacuation alerts to a vast portion of Peachland.
The BC Wildfire Service has identified wind as the primary catalyst fueling the rampant fire. According to fire information officer Evan Lizotte, the high winds from the past few days have shown no signs of dying down, further escalating the situation.
While the region sweltered in record-breaking heat over the weekend, a respite seems likely with forecasts predicting cooler temperatures and calmer winds for the remaining week. As of Monday night, evacuation orders were issued for eight isolated cabins outside Peachland.
Against the backdrop of an impending emergency, Peachland’s mayor, Patrick Van Minsel, beseeched residents to remain calm and direct their attention to instructions from emergency operations. Anticipating various scenarios, the administration is working on developing effective structure protection plans with emergency personnel and structural support units stationed to safeguard critical infrastructure.
In a precautionary appeal, he urged residents to keep a ‘grab and go’ bag ready while reiterating the importance of preparation and resource allocation.
Local resident and former MLA Judi Tyabji compares the ominous smoke to a volcano, recounting her experience of the ash falling relentlessly from the sky, aggravated by frenzied winds. Despite her residence not falling within the immediate evacuation order, she chose to self-evacuate considering the proximity and severity of the blaze.
Echoing Tyabji’s sentiments, Mayor Van Minsel, joined by councils from across the Okanagan, is seeking greater action for the province which finds itself in the grasp of its worst fire season in history. The collective is rallying for lessons to be taken from this year’s unprecedented wildfire season with proactive proposals and strategic planning. Discussions with officials at the ongoing Union of BC Municipalities conference in Vancouver stand as a testament to their dedicated efforts.