Some Kelowna residents on evacuation alert not taking any chances

Click to play video: 'Fire destroys homes in Kelowna'
Fire destroys homes in Kelowna
WATCH: The worst fear for some Kelowna residents has come true. The Kelowna Fire Department, confirming that homes were lost Friday night as a result of wildfires fueled by unpredictable wind gusts. As Jayden Wasney reports, some residents who've been put on alert are not waiting to be told to go. – Aug 19, 2023

Some Kelowna, B.C., residents who have been put under an evacuation alert in the Glenmore area are not waiting to be told when its time to leave, but rather, packing up and fleeing the area as quickly as possible.

Nick Olteanu and his wife Karen have already left their home, situated just two blocks from the evacuation order zone, and have been staying with family in Rutland. They returned briefly on Saturday to check up on their house and grab a few personal belongings they had left behind.

“We started packing up three days ago, and moved everything over from my shop yesterday,” explained Glenmore resident, Nick Olteanu.

“There’s not much left here, and apparently we’re going to be on an evacuation (order) pretty soon here, and we’re prepared for it.”

Click to play video: 'Structures lost in Lake Country fire'
Structures lost in Lake Country fire

After witnessing flames shooting into the sky from their back deck, the couple felt it was time to move before it was too late and have since put up a sign on their front door to let neighbours know they have evacuated.

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“For us, we’re right on the edge of being evacuated next,” said Olteanu.

“I sure hope it’ll get under control but if the wind picks up, blows our direction, it could be gone in no time.”

Another Glenmore family, also near the evacuation order/alert line, has packed up a travel trailer with some of their most cherished family heirlooms.

“I picked some sentimental things, like things that I got from my family,” said Glenmore resident Kimberly Ferguson.

Click to play video: 'B.C. wildfires: 160+ fires considered ‘out of control’'
B.C. wildfires: 160+ fires considered ‘out of control’

“My kids brought their favourite toys — we just went to the Abbotsford Air Show, so some models — and things that mean a lot to them.”

The family came up with a plan to leave before a potential evacuation order is issued, to try and beat the rush.

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“If it comes, we just want to be able to leave as soon as it happens, and actually a lot of the neighbours have already left,” said Ferguson.

“Everything that comes, we’ll just deal with it as it comes.”

For evacuees like Warren Pullen and his partner, they evacuated from their Wilden home on Thursday night at around 10 p.m. and had less than 10 minutes notice to pack up and leave.

Click to play video: 'Packed and ready: Former Alberta family spends relentless night in West Kelowna'
Packed and ready: Former Alberta family spends relentless night in West Kelowna

“We started packing once we saw the fire cross the hill and it was going crazy, and we were just not sure what was going to happen,” said Pullen.

“We did miss stuff, thank goodness we were able to go back into our area while it was under alert, but now it’s under an order so we’re locked out.”

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They’re camping with their two dogs in their camper in the parking lot of Prospera Place, where Emergency Support Services is stationed to support those forced to leave their homes.

“We registered, checked in and asked what resources we can get,” said Pullen.

“We’re pretty self-sufficient, so we’re set up, but they had some food inside and water, and washrooms — very important.”

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‘It was worse than we had expected’: West Kelowna fire chief on challenging fight

While it’s unknown when the couple and their canines can return home, they’re just thankful to have made it out safely.

“It’s the most important thing — being out and being safe, and you never know — life is precious and just seeing how quickly it can be taken away,” said Wilden.

“You just have to be with family and be where the safe place is.”

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As of Saturday, 9,444 Central Okanagan residents have been placed on evacuation alert, while an additional 10,782 residents have been ordered out of their homes.

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