Kelowna, British Columbia — Following a substantial decrease in wildfire activity due to recent rainfall, the final travel restriction for the Okanagan region has been lifted, and all prior evacuation orders within the city limits of Kelowna have been rescinded.
Late yesterday, Emergency Management Minister Bowinn Ma conveyed that the travel restrictions to West Kelowna, situated adjacent to the McDougall Creek wildfire, have been officially lifted as of midnight.
Earlier this week, the travel ban encompassing Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon, and Kamloops was removed. This ban, imposed on August 19, was enacted to ensure sufficient accommodations for evacuees and emergency personnel.
Meanwhile, the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre has downgraded all orders within Kelowna, including those affecting specific residences in West Kelowna Estates and over 300 properties in the District of Lake Country, to alert status.
Notably, evacuation orders still remain in effect for portions of West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation, and Lake Country.
Residents returning to their homes are advised to follow the comprehensive guide provided by the emergency operations centre for a secure reentry. This guide encompasses essential steps related to pets, insurance matters, and mental health support.
Officials caution that residents might encounter residual hazards stemming from the wildfire, including damaged trees. Those situated on public property can be reported to the City of Kelowna for mitigation.
While the wildfire threat in the Kelowna area recedes, fires continue to rage in other regions of British Columbia. The Stein Mountain blaze near Lytton, for instance, now spans nearly 33 square kilometers. Subsequently, the Thompson-Nicola Regional District extended its evacuation order to two additional properties in Blue Sky Country north of Lytton on Thursday afternoon.
Conversely, the regional district was able to lift evacuation orders for 38 properties in close proximity to the Ross Moore Lake wildfire, located south of Kamloops, around the same time.
As of the latest update, approximately 370 active wildfires persist across the province, with around 150 categorized as out of control. Additionally, 14 wildfires are designated as fires of note due to their visibility and potential threat to populated areas.
To date, the fires have ravaged nearly 18,000 square kilometers of British Columbia’s landscape, with 71% attributed to lightning strikes and 23% stemming from human activities.