White Rock Lake Wildfire update

Wednesday, August 25, 2021 - 10:40am

News release No. 39 — Central Okanagan, B.C. — BC Wildfire Service says that the White Rock Lake Wildfire remains active and out of control with an estimated size of 81,300 hectares. BCWS says most of the overnight growth, on the northeastern flank of the fire, was due to planned ignitions that occurred Tuesday, Aug. 24 outside the Regional District of Central Okanagan.

BCWS says planned ignitions will occur today, Wednesday, Aug. 25 within the Regional District of Central Okanagan, conditions permitting, starting around noon. The ignitions are being planned to secure the fire perimeter, burning north of Terrace Mountain, west toward the fire perimeter above Shorts Creek. The planned ignitions, northwest of Fintry Park, aim to remove approximately 200 hectares of fuel along the fire’s edge and pre-established control line along the fire; and during ignition operations, smoke will be visible in Kelowna, Lake Country, North Westside neighbourhoods, Okanagan Indian Band, Peachland, Vernon, Westbank First Nation, West Kelowna and other area communities.

BCWS says these strategic ignitions are required to contain areas of the fire perimeter that are inoperable and unsafe for ground crews and heavy equipment to work. Advance planning, forecasting, and data analysis are completed prior to all ignition operations.

The Evacuation Order for 1,316 properties and Alert for 850 properties, in the North Westside communities within the Regional District of the Central Okanagan, remains unchanged. Residents can visit cordemergency.ca/map to determine if their property is on Order or Alert.

Crews have confirmed that the wildfire has directly impacted 78 properties to date and the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre has contacted most Central Okanagan owners whose properties have sustained significant structural damage. Property assessment work is ongoing as conditions allow, and is subject to change as crews gain further access to affected areas.

“As another day came to a close, I was quickly reminded of how volatile and quickly a wildfire can start and spread. Both our neighbours had fires yesterday in the Bear Creek area and Okanagan Indian Band,” said North Westside Fire Chief Alex Van Bruksvoort. “I ask for your patience as we in here the North Westside still have an out of control fire above our community.”

“North Westside Fire Rescue is continuing our night patrols, and extinguishing any spot fires they find. We continue our hard work alongside all the other amazing hard working agencies, as they continue to get the North Westside community ready for your homecoming.”

The Emergency Operations Center will be organizing an online community information session for owners of properties located within the Regional District of Central Okanagan who are on evacuation order from the White Rock Lake wildfire. Other members of the public are invited to attend the session, which will take place Thursday, Aug. 26, 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Submit questions for the panel in advance before noon, Aug. 26 by going online. To watch the livestreamed community information session go to the RDCO YouTube channel on the evening of the event at youtube.com/regionaldistrict.

Residents under an Evacuation Order or Alert must register with Emergency Support Services even if they do not require support with accommodations. Registration ensures residents can be contacted in the event of significant damages to their property. 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 until crews deem it safe to do so:

  • Hotspots and flare ups have continued almost daily, and major equipment is active in the area, with suppression lines and bladders in place to support fighting the fire. Fire crews need unimpeded access to 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 repairing power infrastructure.

Evacuated residents can call 1-833-498-3770 to register and request 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.

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.