UPDATE: The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary has rescinded the evacuation order for the remainder of the residents affected by the Rock Creek wildfire. The order will be rescinded at 7 p.m. Wednesday night. It affects the people who live along Highway 33. The Highway remains closed so residents returning to their homes will need a pass to get past the road block.
Passes can be picked at the two following reception areas:
Kelowna-Salvation Army at 1480 Sutherland Avenue
Midway-Community Hall at 692 7th Avenue.
The fire broke out last Thursday between the communities of Rock Creek and Westbridge. More than 200 homes were evacuated. On Sunday, the evacuation order was downgraded to an alert for 88 homes and businesses along Highway 3. Now, the remaining residents are being allowed to return to their homes. They will remain on an alert and need to be ready to leave again on a moment’s notice if conditions change.
The fire is responsible for destroying 30 homes and 15 other structures.
The Rock Creek fire that forced hundreds out of their homes, destroying dozens of structures, is now 25 per cent contained.
B.C. Chief Fire Information Officer Kevin Skrepnek says the fire is just over 4,o00-hectares in size.
“The situation out there in Rock Creek is still very active at this point,” says Skrepnek.
There are currently over 100 personnel on site fighting the fire, with air support and heavy equipment.
Skrepnek says fighting the fire has been made difficult by challenging terrain and the wind activity. He says the current weather pattern is not helping the situation.
“We have seen some higher temperatures and lower humidity in much of the South Interior, so we expect the fire activity to pick up.”
But despite failing to contain any of it, Skrepnek says fire crews are still making progress. The evacuation orders for a number of areas, including in the Kettle River Provincial Park, have been rescinded, although an evacuation alert remains in place. Highway 33 remains closed, however.
Skrepnek says they believe the fire was human caused, given the fact that there was no lightning activity in the area.
While visiting the evacuees on Sunday, Premier Christy Clark said there might be video surveillance of the person who may have started the fire, but Skprenek says they are still working on the exact cause and the investigating is ongoing.
Fire crews are making good progress on two other wildfires of note — Wilsons Mountain and Testalinen Creek, which are 70 and 40 per cent contained respectively.
“They are still active fires though,” says Skrepnek. “So we ask people to avoid those areas, just so they are not disrupting our operations or putting themselves in danger.”
More than 230 fires are burning throughout the province right now.