Lumberyard fire northwest of Vernon still burning, now 4 hectares

(Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)(Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
(Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)(Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
(Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)(Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Fire crews are battling a blaze north of Vernon at Mardan Enterprises on Highway 97 past Grandview Flats Road in Spallumcheen. (Clayton Carrier photo)
Thick, dark smoke and flames erupt from Mardan Lumber off Highway 97 between Vernon and Falkland Thursday morning around 10 a.m. (Karryann Maki photo)

UPDATE: 5:21 p.m.

The Spallumcheen lumberyard fire is still burning, but Highway 97 is now open to single-lane alternating traffic 17 km north of Vernon, DriveBC reports.

BC Wildfire Service has clarified an earlier statement from the township. The fire near Round Lake Road is classified at this point as out of control, though it is 70 per cent contained with hose, thanks to the efforts of 25 BCWS firefighters and crews from various local volunteer fire departments. The fire is approximately four hectares in size.

UPDATE: 3:28 p.m.

The fire near Round Lake Road has been reported as contained, the Township of Spallumcheen said in an update Thursday.

The township is continuing with its Level #1 Emergency Operations Centre and gave thanks to Emergency Management BC, the Forest Ministry, the Okanagan Indian Band, Armstrong and BX Swan Lake fire departments who continue to manage the site.

Detours are still in place and the public is reminded to not approach the area.

“No one should be approaching the area for any reason,” the township said.

ORIGINAL:

Highway 97 is closed to traffic between Vernon and Falkland due to a fire.

Thick, black smoke can be seen from the blaze, at Mardan Lumber Sales between Grandview Flats and Tonasket roads. Multiple explosions can also be heard from the volatile blaze.

The highway is still closed as of 2:15 p.m., according to DriveBC. Motorists are being turned around as crews battle the fire and a detour is in place.

The Township of Spallumcheen has activated an emergency operations centre due to the wildfire near Round Lake Road.

“Any progression of this incident will be related to winds causing concern to local area residents,” the township said in it’s activation notice.

Multiple fire departments are on scene, including Okanagan Indian Band, BX-Swan Lake, Armstrong-Spallumcheen and Coldstream. BC Wildfire Service is also actioning the fire from above with retardant being dropped by planes. A helicopter is also actioning the blaze. There are no fire hydrants in the rural area.

The fire remains out of control and is an estimated .6 hectares in size.

“Strong, gusty winds continue to fan the flames,” the Okanagan Indian Band said.

There are several farms on the ridge above the fire. Motorists can take Salmon River Road to avoid the area.

Aim Roads is conducting traffic control while the highway is closed. DriveBC’s next update will come at 3 p.m.

This is the second fire at the mill in recent years. A blaze was sparked at Mardan in May 2016.

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