BC Hydro keeping eye on large Okanagan wildfire that's burning near transmission line

Emergency operations officials in British Columbia say a flyover of electrical lines in the Central Okanagan found no damage from raging wildfires, but they warn that residents need to be ready for possible power cuts.

A news release from Central Okanagan Emergency Operations says BC Hydro conducted the aerial surveillance of its transmission infrastructure earlier Saturday, and they didn’t see any damage, that could change at any time.

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It says people should have an emergency kit ready with things like a flashlight and ready-to-eat non-perishable foods, and have a preparedness plan.

The BC Wildfire Service has said there are more than 300 fires burning across the province, which include two large ones in the Okanagan.

The Brenda Creek wildfire in Central Okanagan remains an estimated 500 hectares in size and is still classified out of control.

BC Hydro spokesman Kevin Aquino says in an email that the Brenda Creek blaze is burning along a right-of-way for its transmission line that serves the City of West Kelowna, but no serious damage was seen during Saturday’s flyover.

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“We continue to work with B.C. Wildfire to protect the transmission line, and crews are on standby and ready to respond at a moment’s notice,” Aquino wrote.

Aquino noted that crews perform regular maintenance, such as inspecting trees growing near its infrastructure and replacing aging power poles.

He said the maintenance also includes spraying fire retardant on poles most vulnerable to a wildfire.

Fortis BC, a supplier of both electricity and natural gas, also warns people to be prepared for possible service interruptions due to wildfires.

Central Okanagan emergency officials are directing people and businesses to Interior Health’s website for guidelines on protecting food in the event of a power failure.

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The province’s transportation ministry said Saturday that wildfires are affecting travel and the ministry warned not to go to areas on evacuation alert.

While that may seem like obvious advice, the Caribou Regional District Emergency Operations Centre posted on social media that it was actually avoiding posting all roadblock locations “in the hope of stopping bad people from snooping around.”

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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