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White Rock Lake wildfire under control after nearly two months of wreaking havoc

Click to play video: 'More White Rock Lake fire evacuees return home after month-long displacement' More White Rock Lake fire evacuees return home after month-long displacement
More evacuees forced out by the White Rock Lake wildfire are back in their homes after several evacuation orders were downgraded over the weekend. Among those who were able to return were Parker Cove residents who have been displaced for more than a month – Sep 6, 2021

Nearly two months from the day it was sparked by lightning, the White Rock Lake wildfire is now under control.

“The wildfire has received sufficient suppression action to ensure no further spread of the fire,” BC Wildfire Service said in a Monday update.

Click to play video: '‘Everything’s gone’: Westside Road evacuees return to properties' ‘Everything’s gone’: Westside Road evacuees return to properties
‘Everything’s gone’: Westside Road evacuees return to properties – Sep 3, 2021

The change in status means that the fire is currently 100 per cent contained and there’s no growth expected. It also means nearby communities that were continually under threat from the inferno can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

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Stretching from Monte Lake in the north to the northwestern shores of Okanagan Lake, the fire is estimated to have scorched 83,342 hectares and destroyed scores of properties, including 78 structures in the Central Okanagan. At the height of its activity, BC Wildfire said the camp in Vernon housed over 500 people directly engaged in wildfire response.

Click to play video: 'An enormous column of smoke rises from the White Rock lake wildfire' An enormous column of smoke rises from the White Rock lake wildfire
An enormous column of smoke rises from the White Rock lake wildfire – Aug 30, 2021

Given the size and scope of the fire, the forested areas where the fire actually took hold of are far from safe.

“There are extreme dangers within the wildfire perimeter like ash pits, falling trees, falling rocks, unstable slopes, burnt over roads, etc.,” BC Wildfire Service said in a release.

Click to play video: 'B.C. wildfires: White Rock Lake fire being held; campfire ban ends early' B.C. wildfires: White Rock Lake fire being held; campfire ban ends early
B.C. wildfires: White Rock Lake fire being held; campfire ban ends early – Sep 3, 2021

“Conservation officers are regularly patrolling the area restriction, and fines will be given out to anyone found accessing the area.”

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And for those whose homes were in the fire zone, there’s a lot of heavy lifting ahead. Some are looking at starting anew, while many more will be dealing with a gargantuan clean related to the month-long displacement, throwing out spoiled food from fridges and deodorizing belongings that currently smell like ash.

As such, the Regional District of the Central Okanagan is doing what it can to accommodate the cleanup effort.

Click to play video: 'White Rock Lake wildfire: Timelapse of massive planned burn' White Rock Lake wildfire: Timelapse of massive planned burn
White Rock Lake wildfire: Timelapse of massive planned burn – Aug 31, 2021

The North Westside Transfer Station has expanded its operations and will be open daily from 8 a.m. to noon for only RDCO residents, property owners and tenants. Normal hours will return Oct. 1. It will be closed each afternoon to deal with the influx of waste and make space for the following day.

There’s no limit on the volume of bagged household waste and non-burnt yard waste impacted households can dispose of, but things like building materials, furniture or large appliances aren’t welcome.

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In fact, for those who have fridges and freezers that need to be collected, the regional district is asking people to keep them secure and away from wildlife until such time pickup occurs.

Curbside pick-up of ruined fridges and freezers will be available until Sept. 14. For fridge and freezer collection, call 1-855-238-9350 to schedule a curbside pick-up.

 

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