Update on White Rock Lake wildfire

Monday, August 23, 2021 - 1:18pm

News Release No. 35 Central Okanagan, B.C. — The White Rock Lake wildfire is classified as out of control and  remains at 80,745 hectares.

The Evacuation Order for 1,316 properties and Alert for 850 properties is unchanged for properties in the North Westside community within the Regional District of the Central Okanagan.

According to BC Wildfire conditions today for crews fighting the fire are expected to be favorable, with lower temperatures and lower humidity, but gusty winds are still forecast and fire behaviour could increase later in the day as a result.

“Another day passed yesterday without an incident, as all agencies continue their incredible hard work” said Alex Van Bruksvoort, Fire Chief North Westside Fire Rescue.” North Westside Fire Rescue continued their patrols through all neighbourhoods making sure homes and property were free of ignition sources. The Regional District of Central Okanagan and North Westside Fire Rescue continues to support the removal and feeding of pets and animals. Patience is something I am personally asking for moving forward, and please keep the faith as we’re doing absolutely everything, we can for all North Westside residents.”

BC Wildfire Services and provincial firefighting crews along with North Westside Fire Rescue crews and equipment will continue to defend pre-established containment lines above communities and protect structures. Structure protection personnel are continuing to action hot spots and do mop up work around interface areas. The drought level in this area is resulting in deep burning forest fuels, making it difficult to bring the area to full extinguishment.

The EOC has been calling residents whose properties were significantly damaged based on initial visual assessment of the area. At this time, the owners of most of the properties that have sustained significant structural damage have been contacted. It is important for all residents under an evacuation order or alert to register with Emergency Support Services even if they do not require support with accommodations. This registration is one of the ways to make sure they can be contacted in the event of significant damages to their property. Residents should note property assessment work is ongoing, and as conditions allow, and subject to change as crews gain further access to affected areas.

Residents whose properties are known to have suffered significant damage as a result of the fire are being offered a limited escorted bus visit throughout the day today. As the area remains an active fire zone and safety is of paramount importance, this will provide highly limited access to the area affected. All COVID protocols are being maintained. Only immediate members of family directly affected have been contacted to participate in these escorted site visits and only as conditions allow.

A Virtual town hall meeting for the owners of the approximately 70 properties directly affected by the fire is also being planned for later this week.

While there is not a specific time-frame for when evacuation orders will be lifted, evacuees should expect that they will not be able to access their home for an extended period of time.

The area on Evacuation Order remains closed to the public. The media will have the opportunity for an escorted tour of a limited portion of the impacted area- if fire conditions permit- this week as a way to provide more information to the public.

This continues to be an active fire zone and there are significant hazards in the area:

  • This is an active fire zone – hotspots and flare ups have continued almost daily, there continue to be over 30 pieces of major equipment in the area, with fire suppression lines and bladders in place to support fighting the fire as it flares up. Fire crews need unimpeded access to the area.
  • There are numerous hazards in the area. Crews continue to assess, identify and dispose of hazardous materials. There is no power and no potable water in the affected areas.
  • Crews are working to restore services to prepare for the time when it is deemed safe to return. BC Hydro is starting to repair power infrastructure.

Evacuated residents can call 1-833-498-3770 to register and access assistance, such as lodging and food, from Emergency Support Services. The ESS reception centre at 1480 Sutherland Avenue is open today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Registering with the ESS, even if you do not need support, provides a way for the EOC to contact property owners whose properties have been damaged. ESS support services have now been expanded to continue until Oct. 1st for those owners who do not have home insurance.

For more information about this wildfire, visit cordemergency.ca, sign up for e-updates, follow the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre on facebook.com/cordemergency or twitter.com/CO_emerg or call the information line at 250-469-8490.