Update on White Rock Lake wildfire

Saturday, August 21, 2021 - 2:45pm

News Release No. 33 Central Okanagan, B.C. — The White Rock Lake wildfire remains out of control and increased fire activity within the fire perimeter was visible last night on the east side of the fire. All evacuations Orders and Alerts remain unchanged for properties in the North Westside community within the Regional District of the Central Okanagan. While under active Evacuation Order residents cannot access their property, this includes by car and by water access.

Overnight crews from both the North Westside Fire Rescue and BC Wildfire Services continued suppression activities which included extinguishing hot spots. A small amount of rain early this morning was good news for fire crews, and the additional rain forecasted today will provide some relief, however it is important to remember that conditions are still considered to be very dry.

BC Wildfire services reports the fire to be an estimated 80,700 hectares. This slight decrease in size is a result of more precise mapping that has been done.

“We know residents want to get into the area to either return home or assess damages to their property, but we need to make sure it is safe to do this,” says Alex Van Bruksvoort, Fire Chief North Westside Fire Rescue. “The need for securing the fire areas couldn’t have been more evident last night. North Westside Fire Rescue while out on patrols came across an outbuilding on fire. It took over two hours to extinguish this fire due to the unknown, flammable products that were kept inside.”

“We are thankful to the community for their ongoing support and their patience in respecting Orders in place and RCMP checkpoints,” adds Van Bruksvoort.

In addition to fire crews on the ground, RCMP and a private security team are conducting ongoing patrols within the North Westside communities for continued safety. No other agencies or services are allowed within the area unless they have been cleared by Incident Command and having a specific need to be deployed there.

Contacting property owners

The Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) continues to contact the property owners whose properties have been identified to have sustained significant damage. Staff have been in touch with most property owners and are continuing to notify impacted property owners directly.

There remains a handful of homeowners that emergency support personnel have not been able to contact. It is important for all evacuated residents and property owners to register with Emergency Support Services at ess.gov.bc.ca even if they do not need assistance. This contact information is one way for the EOC to reach out to property owners in the event that initial assessments indicate their property has sustained significant damage.

We ask that property owners specifically in the following areas, the lower portion of Killarney Place, Homer Crescent and 9300 Block of North Westside Road, who have not already been in touch with the Emergency Operations Centre to contact us at 250-469-8490 to check on the status of their property. Also, if residents know of neighbours in this area who do not have access to internet, email or social media please ask them to call the Emergency Support Services, 1-833-498-3770 to register or to contact the EOC at 250-469-8490.

Initial escorted area visit for owners of damaged properties

Emergency Operations Centre staff are also contacting property owners of those that sustained significant damage to coordinate an initial escorted area visit, planned for Monday August 23 as long as fire conditions remain safe. Social distancing, hand sanitizing and limited number of people per bus will be in place to align with COVID-19 safety protocols. This visit is only for property owners whose properties have sustained significant damage. For privacy and safety reasons, no one else will be permitted to participate.

A follow-up media visit will be coordinated for Tuesday, August 24, as long as fire conditions remain safe to allow for this. This is still an active fire area under Evacuation Order. A media advisory will provided in the coming days directly to media outlets with information.

Emergency Support Services

Evacuated residents can call 1-833-498-3770 to register and access assistance, such as lodging and food, from Emergency Support Services. ESS reception at 1480 Sutherland Avenue is open today until 6 p.m. and will re-open tomorrow, on Sunday August 22, from noon to 6 p.m.

There has been a generous outpouring of support from the community. ESS has enough accommodation for evacuees at this time and offers of private accommodation cannot be coordinated at this time.

Residents in areas that are still under Evacuation Alert must remain ready to leave their home at a moment’s notice. They should be prepared to be away from their home for an extended period of time.  This include pre-registering with ESS online at ess.gov.bc.ca, making arrangements for pets and family members with special needs and packing essential items such as medicines and important documents.

For a map of Evacuation Alerts and Orders in effect in the Central Okanagan, visit cordemergency.ca/map.

Residents can stay informed by signing up for e-updates at cordemergency.ca.

Visitors from outside of the Central Okanagan should check DriveBC.ca to confirm highways are open before heading back home. Anyone wishing to check whether friends or family have been evacuated can use the “Find an address or place” search feature on the website at cordemergency.ca/map. Properties within the red outline are on Evacuation Order and properties within the amber outline are on Evacuation Alert.

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