Update on White Rock Lake wildfire

Sunday, August 22, 2021 - 12:47pm

News Release No. 34 Central Okanagan, B.C. — While the White Rock Lake wildfire is less visible today, the 80,700 hectare fire remains active and out of control. The Evacuation Order for 1,316 properties and Alert for 850 properties remain unchanged for properties in the North Westside community within the Regional District of the Central Okanagan.

Overnight crews continued fire suppression activities into the early morning hours, including extinguishing hot spots. Today, the North Westside Fire Rescue, BC Wildfire Services and provincial firefighting crews are conducting fireguard.

The weather has been favorable, with cooler temperatures over the weekend supporting fire efforts. However, conditions remain extremely dry and crews are preparing for forecasted high winds later today.

“BC Hydro is on site today and working with fire crews to install new power infrastructure for the North Westside community,” said Alex Van Bruksvoort, Fire Chief North Westside Fire Rescue. “And as our crews work with provincial fire crews coming into the area today, we want the public to know that we are working hard in collaboration with all agencies involved. We know residents want to return home, and we are doing all we can to ensure this can happen when it is safe to do so.”

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.

Evacuees are reminded that they cannot access their properties while the Order is in place. Even in areas where the fire has passed through, embers can go deep into tree roots and flare up at any time. Avoiding the area ensures that emergency responders can effectively and safely perform their duties.

“This week our focus in the Emergency Operations Centre is to support residents who have lost their homes as they start the recovery process,” says Doug Gilchrist, Director, Central Okanagan Emergency Operations. “Fire conditions permitting, we will be doing this by coordinating a site visit with these home owners, providing a limited media site visit and we are also planning for a virtual town hall meeting for the owners of these approximately 70 properties.”

“We know there remains thousands of other residents deeply concerned for their homes. We ask for their patience and I can assure them we are working hard alongside crews on the ground and partner agencies to determine when it may be safe to return to their home,” says Gilchrist. “We understand the stress involved with the uncertainty that this fire is providing and will provide more detailed information as soon as it is available for the 1,300 evacuated properties.”

Nearly all property owners whose properties have sustained significant damage have been contacted directly. If residents have not received a call from the EOC it is determined that based on current conditions and initial assessment that their home has not been significantly damaged. That being said, not all areas have been able to be accessed due to the active fire and the possibility of hot spots and flare ups remain. It is anticipated that some homes may have sustained smoke and water damage, and that restoration work may be needed.

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 noon until 6 p.m. and will be open tomorrow, Monday, August 23 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.

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.