The wildfire threatening West Kelowna grew to an estimated 10,500 hectares in size Friday, as new evacuation orders were issued for several neighbourhoods.
In a morning briefing local emergency officials confirmed that the McDougall Creek wildfire had destroyed a “significant” number of structures in the city.
The exact number is not known but Loyal Wooldridge, chair of the Regional District Central Okanagan (RDCO) Board said structures have been lost in the Traders Cove area and Bear Lake Road in the City of West Kelowna.
He added that there has been no confirmed loss of life.
More than 2,500 properties were under evacuation order in the city and surrounding communities on Friday moring. Added to that on Friday, was an evacuation order for properties north of Nahun to, but not including, La Casa.
Late Friday afternoon, evacuation orders were also issued for Westbank First Nation IR No. 10 and IR No. 9.
However, just after 11:30 p.m., Westbank First Nation downgraded a portion of the order for IR No. 9 to an evacuation alert.
A list of the affected properties is available online.
Also Friday night, at 9:30 p.m., Central Okanagan Emergency Operations said an evacuation order had been issued for the Smith Creek subdivision, excluding one address (3184 Shetler Drive).
Then at 11:15 p.m., the City of West Kelowna issued an evacuation alert for the West Kelowna business park in the Stevens Road area, north of Highway 97 from Marshall Road to Daimler Drive.
The city said the alert includes all properties accessed off Marshall Road.
Just after midnight, at 12:07 a.m., the city issued an evacuation alert for the Shannon Lake area and Smith Creek agricultural area to Powers Creek (Glen Canyon) and the north Glenrosa neighbourhood.
“Unless you are evacuated or require emergency or essential travel, please stay off roads to keep them clear for evacuated residents and first responders,” said Emergency Operations.A state of emergency has been declared in Kelowna, and evacuations were underway in two neighbourhoods, as two wildfires flared to life late Thursday evening.
It’s thought that embers from the nearby McDougall Creek wildfire may have sparked the new fires, with embers, aided by gusting winds, crossing Okanagan Lake.
Properties in the Hidden Lake and Still Pond area were, on Thursday, placed under an evacuation order as crews respond to fires in the Clifton/McKinley areas of Kelowna.
On Friday morning, properties in the Shayler area were placed under an evacuation order as crews respond to fires in the Clifton/McKinley areas of Kelowna.
Later on Friday afternoon, properties in the Glenmore Road area were also placed under evacuation order. All properties west of Glenmore Road North located north of John Hindle Dr intersection up to McKinley Road properties are being tactically evacuated by emergency responders.
Properties in the Quails Ridge area have been placed under evacuation order as crews respond to fires in the Clifton/McKinley areas of Kelowna. These properties are being tactically evacuated by emergency responders.
Residents on evacuation order should leave their properties immediately.
All properties can be accessed off Quail Ridge Boulevard including the Quail Ridge Golf Club.
West Kelowna Fire Chief Jason Brolund said Friday that Thursday night was one of the toughest of his career and for many of his firefighters.
“We fought hard last night to protect our community,” he said. “Somebody described it to me last night in the heat of the battle as it was like 100 years of firefighting all at once in one night. And I really think that it was true. We fought 100 years’ worth of fires all, in one night.
“We had people trapped. That’s the fire chief’s worst nightmare.”
The Kamloops Fire Centre continues to prepare for a dry cold front that is forecast to move into the province today, adding instability, potential for dry lightning strikes and strong gusting winds. These winds may cause rapid growth and fast rates of spread on existing fires, and recent hot and dry weather has made fuels susceptible to new wildfire starts.
The public is reminded to be cautious and remain situationally aware of active wildfires, which could experience aggressive fire behaviour over the next 48 hours. Never enter an area where an active wildfire is burning. Pay attention to local updates and alerts in your area, and stay informed of updates online at BC Wildfire.