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B.C. wildfires: Officials confirm houses lost in Kelowna, but no total

Click to play video: 'Crews fend off wildfire just feet from Kelowna home'
Crews fend off wildfire just feet from Kelowna home
Firefighters fended off a wildfire that was approaching a home in Kelowna's Wilden area – Aug 19, 2023

A wildfire has burned homes in the Okanagan’s largest city, but local officials didn’t say how many during a press conference on Saturday morning.

Kelowna fire chief Travis Whiting said there’s been significant fire activity the past two days, along with a significant response, and that crews are working around the clock.

“I will address structural loss within City of Kelowna as well, because I know that’ll be a question that comes up,” said Whiting, noting reports have surfaced on social media of homes being burned.

Click to play video: 'Emergency officials said cold front has passed through but effects lingering in Central Okanagan'
Emergency officials said cold front has passed through but effects lingering in Central Okanagan

The blaze is being called the Clarke Creek wildfire and is sized at 769 hectares.

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The affected fire area in Kelowna stretches along the north end, from Knox Mountain Park to the border of Lake Country, including the Glenmore and McKinley Landing neighbourhoods, where evacuation orders are in place.

“We have had structural loss within the City of Kelowna. We are not prepared to speak too far on that until we get a better assessment so that we can speak accurately.

“My first priority, when we deal with structural losses, is to speak with those impacted directly first rather than to broadcast more publicly before that.

Click to play video: 'B.C. wildfires: Thousands ordered to evacuate Okanagan'
B.C. wildfires: Thousands ordered to evacuate Okanagan

“We have contained the structural loss to most of the area that you’ve seen on social media. And, so, we have been very, very successful in managing structural protection in the rest of the fire area at this point.

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“But, as I say, everything is subject to change based on the fire behaviour over the coming days.”

The press conference featured several speakers, including West Kelowna fire chief Jason Brolund, who was highly appreciative of out-of-town help.

Click to play video: 'B.C. declares provincial state of emergency amid worst wildfire season on record'
B.C. declares provincial state of emergency amid worst wildfire season on record

Whiting echoed that comment “for what’s being mustered. On behalf of our communities from across B.C. to help us out here, absolutely fantastic.”

He also said with the winds dying down, and not fanning the fire as much, he doesn’t want to see people underestimating the weather.

“We still have a lot of potential and we still have a lot of variables,” Whiting said.

The mayor of Kelowna, Tom Dyas, said while crews are battling the fire, “We do have advanced planning teams working on recovery plans and more information will be available in the coming days with regards to individual structures.”

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