White Rock Lake update - news release No. 50

Tuesday, August 31, 2021 - 9:10am

Central Okanagan, B.C. — Crews continue their work on suppressing the White Rock Lake wildfire and conducting safety assessments for the 81,362-hectare White Rock Lake wildfire, which the BC Wildfire Service classifies as out of control.

Multiple agencies, including the BC Wildfire Service and the Regional District of Central Okanagan are dedicating all necessary resources to safely assess the risks to properties in the area, including tree fall hazards, slope stability and spot fires. This risk assessment work is required prior to making any determinations on when residents will be able to safety return home.

The BC Wildfire Service will provide recommendations, as soon as possible, on when evacuation orders or alerts associated with the White Rock Lake Wildfire can be amended. By mid-week, it is anticipated that residents will be provided with a Return Home Guide and be invited to attend a Return Home Information Session. More details on this information session will be provided as soon as they are confirmed.

“This is a hard time for all the residents of the North Westside community, which includes the firefighters. North Westside Fire Rescue crews are working daily on extinguishing the wildfire, alongside with all agencies, day and night to bring an end to the evacuation order,” says Northwest Fire Chief Alex Van Bruksvoort. “I ask daily for your patience, and today is no different as we get closer to bringing the residents home. Patience is our strength, and listening to wrong information weakens all of us.”

The BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure continues to assess the safety and condition of Westside Road and conduct necessary mitigation before the highway can be reopened. Westside Road remains closed for more than 31 kilometres between Shalal and Irish Creek Roads until further notice.

BC Wildfire Services says planned ignitions on the White Rock Lake wildfire were completed Monday evening. The area where ignitions occurred will continue to burn and produce smoke over the next several days. The ignitions have brought the fire down to established control lines in several key areas on the northeast of the fire. This has reduced the risk of further growth and impacts in the interface, which is the area of the fire that poses a risk to structures. Securing these northeast perimeters allows the BC Wildfire Service to recommend to local authorities when their Evacuation Orders and Alerts may be downgraded.

At this time, the evacuation Order for 1,316 properties and 850 properties on Alert in the North Westside communities within the RDCO remain in place.

To date 78 properties have been confirmed as having sustained significant damage. Those owners have been contacted. As assessment work continues it is likely that additional properties under evacuation order will have had some damage that could cause the home to be temporarily unsafe to live in until remediation work can be undertaken.

Central Okanagan evacuees can find out more about Emergency Support Services by calling 250-469-8512 or by visiting the Central Okanagan ESS Reception Centre at 1480 Sutherland Avenue, Kelowna, open noon to 6 p.m. today. The following rules apply:

  • Evacuated residents WITH homeowner or tenant insurance will not be given an extension for coverage and should immediately contact their insurance provider to find out what coverage is available.
  • Evacuated residents WITHOUT homeowner or tenant insurance may receive support and should contact Emergency Support Services.

You can visit the Insurance Bureau of Canada for more information on the process of an insurance claim as a result of a BC wildfire at www.ibc.ca/ns/disaster/bcwildfire.

There are eligibility requirements for emergency support services. Homeowner or tenant insurance may provide greater support than the Emergency Support Services program. Check with your insurer to determine what may be available to you. For details on eligibility, see the Evacuee Living Assistance Policy (PDF, 378KB).

For more information about this wildfire, visit cordemergency.ca, BC Wildfire Services and 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.