The Lytton First Nations Band has issued an evacuation order for 10 homes and an alert for another 65 properties because of a fast-growing wildfire south of Lytton, B.C.

The B.C. Wildfire Management Branch says strong winds gusting up to 80 km/h are driving the 1,300-hectare blaze, which is burning up a steep hillside on the west side of the Fraser river, roughly 100 kilometres north of Hope.

Fire information officer Melissa Klassen says the fire was first reported around noon and has grown rapidly in size. Klassen says the fire is roughly 10 kilometres south of Lytton and moving north.

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Fire is ‘engulfing everything’

A reception Centre has been set up at the Parish Hall in Lytton to assist affected residents.

“We are seeing aggressive, high fire behaviour. It is a crown fire which means that it is engulfing everything that it comes in contact with,” says Klassen. “It’s travelling from those tree tops.”

The wildfire management branch has 22 firefighters on scene, with another 20 on the way, and is responding with the support of air tankers and helicopters.

The high winds are a challenge for firefighters, says Klassen. However, the strong winds that challenged crews earlier on Thursday are expected to lessen overnight.

The fire is also generating a lot of smoke and the winds are carrying the smoke throughout the Kamloops region and can be seen from Merritt and Vernon.

As of 10 p.m. PT, it was not contained at all.

Trees ‘whipping up in flame’

Barry Shantz, who lives three kilometres south of Lytton, says he’s been watching the fire from his home across the river.

“Sometimes we can see trees just going from the bottom to the top, just whipping up in flame.”

Gerry Giesbrecht says he could see smoke billowing up into the air from several kilometres away as he drove through the area.

“The most powerful plume of smoke I have ever seen. Like a volcano, thick.”