B.C. wildfires: More people return to West Kelowna as more planned ignitions get underway

Click to play video: 'More return home in West Kelowna, planned ignitions underway'
More return home in West Kelowna, planned ignitions underway
WATCH: Another wave of people is returning home as the McDougall Creek wildfire moves away from homes in the valley. As Victoria Femia reports, plans for controlled burns are getting underway, which means if all goes well, even more people will get to go home in the coming days – Aug 25, 2023

Another wave of people is returning home as the McDougall Creek wildfire moves away from homes in the Okanagan Valley.

Properties in West Kelowna continue to be downgraded to an evacuation alert as the threat of the wildfire eases.

Doug Pylatuk, who was evacuated for a week, returned home Thursday evening to the Peak Point Road area and was grateful to find out his home was still standing.

“Everything is intact, it’s amazing. (I) just want to say thanks to the firefighters, they did such a good job,” Pylatuk said.

With many areas being downgraded to evacuation alerts, the concern of moving to an order remains, leaving residents choosing to keep their bags packed.

“We’re going to be mindful and try to have a bag or two with essentials if we have to leave quickly,” said Juan Simon, resident returning home to Peak Point Road.

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The fire remains out of control at 12,318 hectares, but according to the West Kelowna Fire Department, there have been improvements on the front lines.

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“Another promising day incremental improvements on the fire ground yesterday afternoon and last night were very dramatic for a lot of people, the planned ignition took place in the Shannon Woods neighbourhood,” said West Kelowna Fire Chief Jason Brolund.

The planned ignitions are expected to help keep the fire away from homes by removing fuel that hasn’t been burnt

“We’re trying to bring that fire edge down to our guard and what that’s going to do is prevent any kind of fire behaviour down towards the home. It also brings the fire into a more operable area,” said BCWS Incident Commander Brad Litke.

BC Wildfire’s next step is to conduct a 130-hectare aerial planned ignition from the top of the Bald Range area, south to roughly 11 kilometres on the Bear Main to remove unburnt fuel and secure control lines.

“We typically move into aerial ignitions when it is a larger area, larger hectares in size and if the area is quite inaccessible, we don’t want to put our ground crews in dangerous terrain and their igniting so that’s why we’ll use an aerial platform,” said Litke.

In the last few days, the fire moved away from homes closer to the lake but towards the north westside.

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“When you have a fire of this scope and scale, 12,000-plus hectares, it’s more about pockets it’s about different sides of the fire. Right now it’s the northwest corner which is not very visible from the valley in the communities below,” Litke said.

“Our primary objective is to secure the communities in the valley’s bottom

With controlled burns planned for the coming days, fire officials are advising residents that there will be increased smoke in the area.

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