More crews sent to B.C.'s southern Okanagan wildfire as weather shift possible

VANCOUVER — A stubborn wildfire in British Columbia's southern Okanagan has now charred an estimated 12.5-square kilometres of trees and bush near the community of Oliver and fire crews are working against time as bad weather looms.

BC Wildfire Service information officer Nicole Bonnett says additional crews are arriving, in part to respond to "potential forecasted weather events," and also to help carry out other firefighting duties.

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The added staff bolsters a crew of 100 that has been working around the clock on the blaze which broke out Sunday.

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen expanded its evacuation alert Wednesday night, adding another 41 properties to the 206 placed on alert one day after the fire was spotted.

An evacuation alert posted by the Osoyoos Indian Band also covers the Okanagan Correctional Centre on reserve land north of Oliver.

No homes or outbuildings have been affected in any of the properties under alert, but a spokeswoman for the Public Safety Ministry says an evacuation plan for the roughly 200 inmates at the jail is in place.

Bonnett says if conditions are favourable, trees and bush ahead of the west flank of the fire will be deliberately burned Thursday to prevent flames from moving in that direction.

A similar burn on the same fire flank was successfully conducted Wednesday.

Environment Canada is continuing a special air quality statement for the south Okanagan region, saying smoke from the wildfire will blanket Penticton, Oliver, Summerland, Naramata and Osoyoos for at least the next 12 to 24 hours.

Special weather statements also remain posted for much of the southern and southeastern Interior, calling for unseasonably high temperatures and little chance of rain until the weekend.

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