A large plume of smoke rose from the Mt. Eneas fire today, after B.C. WIldfire caused a burn to join it with the Munro Lake fire.

BC Wildfire merges two Okanagan wildfires

Large plume of smoke seen over the fire was a controlled event

Glen Burgess, incident commander for the Okanagan Complex of wildfires, says he can understand why people were nervous watching a new big plume of smoke rise from the Mount Eneas fire today.

But it was all part of a plan, he explained to a group of media this afternoon. BC Wildfire intentionally increased the size of the Mount Eneas fire, forcing it to join with the nearby Munro Forest Service Road Wildfire wildfire.

“The plume of smoke can be unnerving,” said Burgess, explaining that it was a choice between doing it themselves, under their own terms, or waiting for it to happen uncontrollably when an inevitable wind blew the fire up.

“The objective was to remove that fuel at our time when the weather was co-operating,” said Burgess.

Related: UPDATED: Mount Eneas fire grows to 1,374 hectares

Crews used helicopters to drop ping pong size balls — plastic spherical devices, Burgess called them — loaded with a small amount of chemicals that would ignite, causing new fires.

Prior to the drop, aerial tankers laid out lines of retardant to contain the fire.

“The plan was to remove the fuel between two fires,” Burgess said. He explained that ground crews could have done the work, but that would have put lives at risk unnecessarily.

“Things have gone well and we didn’t have anything go unexpectedly,” said Burgess.

“One of the reasons we wanted to do this today, is we haven’t moved into the hotter dryer weather that was predicted.”

The burn added about 150 hectares to the fire.

“The growth we saw today was a planned event,” said Burgess. “We will be in a much better position. The fire will be behind containment lines where we can work on it.

The good news, Burgess explained, is that winds aren’t expected to accompany the warming weather.

“At this point, our weather people are telling us we won’t be seeing the winds we saw a few days ago,” he said.

Related: Okanagan Wildfires: An afternoon update on wildfires and evacuations

The Mt. Eneas wildfire is still considered out of control and the Central Okanagan Regional District say evacuation alerts will remain in effect overnight for 698 properties in the vicinity of the 1,400-hectare Mt. Eneas fire and the 150-hectare Munro Forest Service Road Wildfire.

In the Central Okanagan, the following addresses remain on evacuation alert: 7100 – 7210 Brent Rd.; 7212 – 7280 Highway 97 South; Finlay Creek Cabins.

All alerts and orders remain rescinded for the Goode’s Creek Wildfire south of Kelowna and the Law Creek Wildfire south of West Kelowna. BC Wildfire says no significant growth had occurred on either of these fires by mid-Sunday afternoon.

Related: Wildfires still keeping residents from their homes


Steve Kidd
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
Email me or message me on Facebook
Follow us on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Greater Victoria survey shows third of respondents did not pay, or partially paid rent for April

Survey of 70 respondents says 40 per cent expect they will not be able to pay May rent

Nanaimo, Royal Jubilee to be Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 frontline hospitals

Other Island hospitals will be admitting COVID-19 patients and will be used in a support role

Advocates call safe drug supply a victory but worry about logistics in pandemic

Pandemic contributes to scarce supply, advocates worried about potential impact on the streets

BC Transit extends free fare, installs vinyl barriers in some buses

Free fare will now be offered until April 30

Paramedics called to Oak Bay golf course as man crashes bike into sand trap

Oak Bay police respond to social distance concerns

B.C. clears more acute hospital beds as COVID-19 case growth slows

Province holding about 40% of beds empty for peak still to come

75-year-old woman rescued from Cowichan Lake

Victim taken to hospital, but expected to recover

Not to become bored the game plan for COVID-19

Board game with an Island map developed by Island family just the remedy for filling time at home

As 500K+ apply for emergency benefit, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind

Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2,000 per month

UPDATE: UK PM Boris Johnson moved to intensive care after COVID-19 symptoms worse

He has been quarantined in his Downing St. residence since being diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26

Travellers, travel agents ‘in agony’ over refund policies and customer service

Many Canadian carriers are offering customers flights rebookings or travel vouchers — but not refunds

Introverted and extroverted kids likely to react differently to COVID-19 restrictions

B.C. child psychologist says your parenting approach can’t be one-size fits all in social isolation

B.C. begins taking submissions for $2M COVID-19 research fund

Rural health, impact of shifting hospital resources among priorities

Most Read