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Kelowna area wildfire loses its punch; more evacuees allowed home

Click to play video: 'Municipal fire crews helping save homes threatened by wildfire near Kelowna' Municipal fire crews helping save homes threatened by wildfire near Kelowna
Municipal fire crews helping save homes threatened by wildfire near Kelowna – Aug 30, 2017

Crews with the BC Wildfire Service have some fire fighting allies in the battle against the Philpott Road forest fire burning east of Kelowna.

At least eight municipal fire departments from the central Okanagan have also sent personnel and equipment to the fire site.

Their main focus is to try to prevent homes or other structures from burning down.

Sprinkler systems have been set up on and around buildings on about 20 of the most threatened properties.

The systems are turned on twice a day.

“Making sure everything ready to go if needed,” says Darrell Belgrove of the Ellison Fire Department. “They moisten down the area and bring up the humidity around the houses.”

So far, no buildings have been lost to the flames.

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The municipal crews also patrol roads leading to to residential properties through the fire zone.

“Putting out hot spots and actioning the small fires we’ve had against the roads, ” says Joe Rich Fire-Rescue member Cody Anderson.

Three times a day, BC Ambulance Service paramedics check the heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen levels of the fire fighters.

“Making sure things are not going off the charts for them,” says paramedic Ellen Hardy. “They’re working hard in the heat. We want to make sure they’re staying healthy.”

On Wednesday, the blaze was mostly holding steady at about 465 hectares with 20 per cent containment.

“It feels really good. We’re definitely at a point where things are looking up,” says Joe Rich Fire-Rescue spokesperson Greg Robson. “Currently the wind is perfect for working the guards, working to surround the fire. We’re making sure we get our guards wider.”

The subdued nature of the fire allowed for 125 more residents to return home Wednesday leaving 77 people under an evacuation order.

The wildfire started last Thursday right next to Highway 33 near the Philpott Road intersection.

The cause is under investigation but it’s almost certainly the result of human activity.

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