A collective sigh of hopeful relief could be heard in Osoyoos, B.C., on Monday.
Despite the quite-close Eagle Bluff wildfire, which crossed from Washington state into British Columbia on Saturday, local officials reduced the number of properties on evacuation order by 540.
Eagle Bluff fire engulfs mountainside in Osoyoos, B.C.
In all, there are now 192 properties on evacuation order, down from 732 on the weekend. However, that downsizing increased the number of properties on evacuation alert, to 2,635 from 2,094.
Also up: the fire’s overall size in Canada, now pegged at 1,450 hectares, up from 885 hectares on Sunday.
Across the border, in Okanogan County, the fire is sized at 10,000 acres (4,046 hectares). The fire, on both sides of the border, is deemed to be out of control.
Still, the good news: fewer people are on evacuation order.
An interactive map showing properties under evacuation alert and order is available on the regional district’s website.
“We’re so happy about having the evacuation orders lifted in most places,” said the mayor of Osoyoos, Sue McKortoff.
Eagle Bluff wildfire burning near Osoyoos
“I know we still have 192 (properties on evacuation order) still on out there, but we’re very happy about that.”
Sixty-one firefighters are on scene, along with five helicopters plus help from area fire departments, though officials didn’t exactly know how many were providing support.
“It’s phenomenal to get that much help,” said McKortoff.
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Officials noted that on Saturday, southerly winds pushed the blaze north. But on Sunday, the winds shifted and pushed the fire back onto itself.
Shaelee Stearns of BC Wildfire said the fire’s western edge picked up some on Sunday, which is something they’re watching.
“Our main property is the eastern flank,” said Stearns, adding that crews are monitoring all flanks and will act accordingly.
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Also, local officials asked boaters on Osoyoos Lake to be aware of aircraft scooping up water to battle the blaze.
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“The safety hazard is still there and it’s ongoing,” said Stearns. “It’s important for people to be aware that there’s still a wildfire in the area and aviation suppression is taking place.
“Be cautious when you’re out on the water.”
McKortoff also noted that despite the encroaching wildfire, Osoyoos is still open for business.
In fact, she said the eastern edge of Osoyoos Lake offers “a bird’s eye view of this fire because it’s on the west side.”
“I don’t think it has inconvenienced any of the visitors,” said McKortoff, adding that all local motels and campgrounds are open.
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