Canadian Firefighter Magazine

West Kelowna, B.C., fire department returns to ‘normal’ operations: wildfire service

By The Canadian Press   

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Aug. 27, 2023, West Kelowna, B.C. – The BC Wildfire Service says the West Kelowna, B.C., fire department is returning to “normal day-to-day operations,” 10 days after a fast-moving wildfire forced thousands to flee and went on to destroy more than 170 homes in the area.

It says an additional 1,800 people have been allowed to return home this weekend as evacuation orders in communities on both sides of Okanagan Lake are lifted.

Interior Health says residents of two more long-term care homes are among those returning home “gradually and carefully” after being evacuated on Aug. 18.

The health authority says 116 residents are set to return to Glenmore Lodge in Kelowna, B.C., and 48 are returning to a care home in the District of Lake Country.

The Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre says 1,588 properties remain on evacuation order in fire-ravaged West Kelowna and 1,114 remain on order in rural areas of the regional district as well as on Westbank First Nation lands.

The McDougall Creek wildfire, responsible for much of the destruction in the West Kelowna area, continues to burn out of control over 123 square kilometres.

In the Shuswap region to the north, an update from the BC Wildfire Service says a warming and drying trend will fuel increased fire behaviour at the 430-square-kilometre Bush Creek East blaze before temperatures are expected to cool Tuesday.

Officials with the Columbia Shuswap Regional District have said the blaze has destroyed more than 130 structures and damaged almost 40 more.

There are just over 370 active blazes in British Columbia, including 12 designated “wildfires of note,” meaning they’re highly visible or pose a threat to public safety.

The two wildfires that had threatened the District of Lake Country and the City of Kelowna are classified as “being held” and crews are patrolling for hotspots.

Air quality advisories stemming from wildfire smoke remain in effect for B.C.’s south coast and southern Interior, along with parts of the north, from the Bulkley Valley to the Peace region.

Environment Canada has also issued a heat warning for inland sections of the north coast, including Terrace and Kitimat, as well as the Peace region.

The weather office says daytime highs near 30 C are expected to persist until Tuesday near the coast and Wednesday in northeastern B.C.

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