All City of Kelowna evacuation orders lifted as wildfire ‘held’

Click to play video: 'B.C. wildfires: Cooler, favourable conditions help in Central Okanagan'
B.C. wildfires: Cooler, favourable conditions help in Central Okanagan
WATCH: Cooler temperatures and high humidity have allowed firefighters to deliberately ignite fuel pockets and create a dramatic and highly visible burn-off near homes in West Kelowna. In Kelowna, almost all evacuated residents are able to return home, while more evacuation orders downgraded in the surrounding communities. Cassidy Mosconi has the latest – Aug 24, 2023

All City of Kelowna residents who were forced to flee due to wildfire evacuation orders have been given the go-ahead to return home.

However the Central Okanagan Regional District said Thursday that they remain on evacuation alert and should still be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.

Evacuation orders remain in effect for numerous homes in Lake Country, West Kelowna, the Westbank First Nation and surrounding communities.

Click to play video: 'Evacuation orders being lifted in Kelowna'
Evacuation orders being lifted in Kelowna

The order downgrade comes as two of the three wildfires that started on a destructive path through the Central Okanagan one week ago were classified as “being held.”

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BC Wildfire’s Brad Litke said that the wildfires burning in Lake Country and Kelowna are now held, which means they are not likely to spread beyond predetermined boundaries under current conditions.

Kelowna fire chief Travis Whiting said the improved conditions were a long-awaited shift.

“It’s important that you not return home until lets you know,” Whiting said.

“We want to avoid any unnecessary traffic congestion or people in the way while we try to move resources and get these neighbourhoods open.”

Click to play video: 'B.C. wildfires: Significant progress made in Okanagan fire fight'
B.C. wildfires: Significant progress made in Okanagan fire fight

The McDougall Creek wildfire, which burned through West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation, and North Westside neighbourhoods, remains out of control and is measured at 12,318 hectares. The cause of that is still under investigation.

Litke said the weather has been working in favour of firefighters in recent days, but, heading into the weekend, there will be a shift and it’s not ideal.

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“With climbing temperatures and lower relative humidity moving towards the weekend, we’re expecting to see an increase in fire behaviour in the Grouse Complex fires, specifically to the McDougall Creek fires,” Litke said.

Litke said BC Wildfire crews are hoping to complete a hand ignition in the northwest of the Shannon Lake Golf Course.

Click to play video: 'More smoke around McDougall Creek wildfire expected'
More smoke around McDougall Creek wildfire expected

For the last two days, crews have been preparing hose lines and hand guards to address the pockets of unburned fuel on the steep slopes that could challenge containment.

“This is important work to ensure that that fuel isn’t going to be able to take a run at our guards. The operation will bring the fire into more operable terrain for the firefighters as well,” he said.

West Kelowna fire chief Jason Brolund said that the sight of the smoke from these planned burns may be concerning to some but, as he did the day earlier, he wanted to remind people that it’s not a bad sign.

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“People are going to see it and they’re going to think that things are getting worse again, and they’re not…  it’s actually part of making things better,” Brolund said.

“I want to assure the public that not only are the BC Wildfire service experts involved in designing and executing it, but we have one of the largest structural fire departments in the country assembled in the base of that neighbourhood, ready to protect the homes and deploy as required.”

Click to play video: '90 properties damaged or lost on North Westside'
90 properties damaged or lost on North Westside

On Wednesday night, the Emergency Operations Centre launched an online search tool for West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation and Central Okanagan West Electoral Area properties that have experienced partial to full structure loss resulting from the McDougall Creek wildfire.

Property owners placed on evacuation orders can search to see if their property has incurred losses by visiting

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The search tool follows the work of Canada Task Force 1 Team, which completed assessments to identify properties that incurred losses in the wildfires.

This was the first step in aiding in the public notification process. Further hazard assessments must now be completed at each property, to determine the number and types of structures lost on each property. That process is completed in the City of Kelowna and the District of Lake Country.

The process will take longer but remains a priority in the communities of West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation and the Regional District of the Central Okanagan West Electoral Area where losses have been greater.

Click to play video: '‘I’m running out of underwear, too, folks’ West Kelowna fire chief understands evacuee frustrations all too well'
‘I’m running out of underwear, too, folks’ West Kelowna fire chief understands evacuee frustrations all too well

On Wednesday night, properties on Horizon Drive Shannon Lake Road and Alexandria Way,  Moore Drive,  Shawna Court, Helgason Drive, Golf Course Drive, Shannon View Drive, Cornerstone Drive and Hedgestone Drive saw evacuation orders downgraded to alerts.

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View the up-to-date evacuation order and alert areas on

On Thursday afternoon, Kelowna RCMP issued a statement, thanking the community for its patience and cooperation with emergency personnel during the evacuation alerts and orders.

“Many of our very own officers are eager to return home alongside their neighbours,” said police.

“As orders and alerts are lifted, we would like to remind those to please be patient and follow the established plans for re-entry into the affected neighbourhoods.”

Police added that officers will remain in designated areas to maintain order and assist as necessary. They are also asking the public to be respectful and give space to those returning home.



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