Base of fire

The base of the Sage Mesa fire at Highway 97.

Officials have rescinded the evacuation order for the Sage Mesa area.

While most residents can drive home, those whose properties are on Sage Mesa Drive north of Ladera Place must walk in, due to vehicle restrictions that are still in effect as a result of the emergency.

The BC Wildfire Service lists the blaze at just half a hectare in size with an unknown ignition source.

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A grass fire that started at the side of Highway 97 just north of Penticton has triggered an evacuation of 74 properties in the Sage Mesa neighbourhood.

The evacuation order covers homes on Sage Mesa Drive, Solana Crescent and Verano Place.

Evacuees should go to the Emergency Support Services reception centre at 199 Ellis St. or register online at www.ess.gov.bc.ca.

The fire started at the side of Highway 97 northbound around 8:30 a.m. and followed a gully for several hundred metres up a steep slope, on top of which is Sage Mesa.

Don Kelly was on the beach at nearby Red Wing resort, when he looked up and noticed smoke in the distance.

“Then I saw flames ripping up the hillside,” said Kelly.

He lives in Sage Mesa and immediately went home.

“By the time I got there, (the fire) was backed up to the houses.”

Traffic is largely at a standstill on Highway 97 between Penticton and Summerland.

More to come.