UPDATED: Expect heavy delays on Highway 97

Motorists may use an alternate route via Highway 97C, Highway 5A and Highway 3

UPDATE: 6:50 a.m.

Expect heavy delays on Highway 97 this morning.

The highway is now open to single lane alternating traffic but subject to one to two hour delays and road closures on short notice.

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UPDATE: 2:41 a.m.

DriveBC is now reporting that Highway 97 is now closed between Peachland and Summerland. The estimated time of opening is not available.

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UPDATE: 2:28 a.m.

DriveBC is reporting Highway 97 is open to single lane alternating traffic with an RCMP escort; however, drivers should expect up to 20 minutes delay.

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UPDATE: 12:30 a.m.

DriveBC reports that the highway remains closed between Peachland and Summerland.

An alternate route is available via Highway 97C, Highway 5A and Highway 3.

As it stands, motorists can expect delays of one to two hours Thursday morning.

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UPDATE: 11:15 p.m.

After hours of single-lane alternating traffic along Highway 97 between Peachland and Summerland, motorists attempting to get through are being turned around

Dean Taylor was headed north to Kelowna after working in Penticton Wednesday.

He had been waiting more than three hours for a chance to get to the front of the line and head home before he was turned back around.

Just after 11 p.m., RCMP told him to head back south and find somewhere to spend the night in Summerland or Penticton.

“This was my first experience with a wildfire while traveling,” said Taylor.

”The highway became a parking lot for hours as we watched it grow and expand. My thoughts are now for those whose homes may be in its path and on a personal level… I am hoping there still may be a hotel room available.”

DriveBC reports that the highway is closed between Peachland and Summerland.

An alternate route is available via Highway 97C, Highway 5A and Highway 3.

As it stands, motorists can expect delays of one to two hours Thursday morning.

Related: Evacuation order, local state of emergency, for Mount Eneas wildfire

Related: Okanagan Mountain Park fire forces evacuation alert

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UPDATE: 7:34 p.m.

RCMP continue to maintain traffic control of Highway 97 near Peachland due to a wildfire.

According to Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey, police are piloting motor vehicles back and forth, through the portion of Highway 97 south of Antler’s Beach, which is presently impacted by the wildfire.

“Our officers will continue to escort motorists in alternating directions, only when it is safe to do so and the public should prepare for sudden closures for undetermined amounts of time.”

RELATED: Three fires sparked in Peachland overnight

RCMP continue to ask that the public avoid the general area and expect waits of one to two hours.

Peachland beachgoers watched smoke fill the sky above Okanagan Lake Wednesday afternoon. Image: Kathy Michaels/Kelowna Capital News

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UPDATE: 5:26 p.m.

The manager of the Dragon Lotus Restaurant on Highway 97 near Antler’s Beach, just south of Peachland, says it appears some vehicles are now getting through on the highway, guided, albeit very slowly, by fire crews and police.

Sam Vong said the smoke is getting very heavy in the area, thanks to a shift in the wind. That was why the highway was closed he said.

The police say as a short-term measure they have re-opened the road to single-lane alternating traffic only.

Vong said the fire appears to be between a mile and two miles from his restaurant.

But he said after years of living in the Okanagan and seeing wildfires in the past, he remains confident in the abilities of firefighters to fight the flames.

He said he closed his restaurant because of the road closure but some of the people stuck in traffic on the highway wanted to come in and eat while they waited, so he let them.

“But we have lost all our reservations for tonight,” he added.

Vong said he planned to close early and expected, if there was no change inthe wind, that there may be evacuations in the area later in the day.

UPDATE: 5:11 p.m.

RCMP are assisting the BC Wildfire Service with the Highway 97 closure between Summerland and Peachland.

There is an immediate closure of Highway 97 near Brent Road, in the vicinity of Antlers Beach in Peachland.

According to Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey the closure was necessary for the safety of the public due to a wildfire burning towards the highway.

“RCMP would like to urge the general public to avoid the area for their own safety, and well-being, as well as the safety and well-being of emergency personnel operating in the area,” stated O’Donaghey.

Additional RCMP officers, from the South Okanagan, have also closed Highway 97 south of Peachland.

Boaters are also warned to that they must stay clear of firefighting aircraft that are collecting water from Okanagan Lake.

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ORIGINAL:

Highway 97 is closed between Peachland and Summerland due to a wildfire.

According to area residents the wildfire near Mount Conkle has caused serious visibility issues on the highway.

RELATED: Summerland wildfire grows to 50 hectares

BC Wildfire Service has crews in the area along with air support; however, they had no official number of crews on scene at this time.

RELATED: More thunderstorms on the way as fires still burn

There are more than 12 fires currently burning in the Okanagan corridor and BC Wildfire Service says they are aware of all of them and are on scene of the majority of the blazes.

The highway will be closed for several hours motorists may use an alternate route via Highway 97C, Highway 5A and Highway 3.

Traffic is heavily congested in the area and DriveBC is urging travellers to make alternate arrangements.


@Jen_zee
jen.zielinski@bpdigital.ca

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