B.C. wildfires: More Kelowna residents return home from evacuation order

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More Kelowna residents return home from evacuation order
WATCH: As some evacuation orders are downgraded to alerts we are able to breathe a collective sigh of relief. As Sydney Morton tells us, people residing along Kelowna's Clifton Road neighbourhood were able to return to their homes late Thursday afternoon. – Aug 25, 2023

Residents of Clifton Road in Kelowna, B.C., are able to breathe a sigh of relief.

Monica Gaucher and her dog, Miss Pepper, are one of the many residents who were allowed to return home after an evacuation order from the Walroy Lake wildfire was downgraded to an alert.

“We have wonderful hosts and friends who have put us up in Tower Ranch. They have been great but you want to be in your own bed,” said Gaucher.

That wish was answered for Clifton Road residents on Thursday evening

“I am just happy that our homes were saved. I was here on Thursday night (Aug. 17) when the fire jumped, I knew it was going to jump,” said Gaucher.

“I am just so grateful to the emergency responders and the hard work they did in keeping our homes safe. It’s remarkable nothing burned in here.”

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It’s been a long week since that terrifying night when the wildfire jumped Okanagan Lake from West Kelowna, sparking multiple fires on the eastern shores that became known as the Grouse Complex wildfire.

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“It was heartbreaking to watch across the lake, then the fire jumped to our side and it was absolute terror and the fire took off and a few seconds it was huge,” said Clifton Road resident Brent Lewis.

“We had gridlock traffic on our street because people were watching the fire. If that fire had been a little west or closer to the road it would have been a very different story because there would have been a lot of people trapped behind the fireline.”

The neighbours were forced to pack their essentials and their pets to then merge into the stream of headlights blocking the only road out of the neighbourhood.

“What I really couldn’t believe is how fast the fire took off when it came across and that kind of freaked me out, and was I glad to get out,” said Clifton Road resident Martin Soleski.

Now, many of them are returning with a renewed sense of gratitude.

“[We’re] super happy to be home, really thankful for the firefighters, cops, and everyone involved,” said Genie Lewis, also a resident of Clifton Road.
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As of 8 a.m., Friday, Aug 25, the Regional District of Central Okanagan is reporting that there are 1,337 addresses on alert and 4,482 addresses are on order.

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