CENTRAL OKANAGAN (NEWS 1130) — More structures have been lost to growing wildfires burning in B.C., this time near Okanagan Lake.
At least 60 properties in the Killiney area, north of West Kelowna, were damaged overnight Sunday.
Many of the structures lost are homes and vacation properties, as well as some rural buildings.
The Central Okanagan Emergency Operations says that drought conditions and high winds increased fire action on the White Rock Lake Fire, which is burning north west of the beach side community.
This fire must have so much force to have moved as quickly as it did causing so much devastation. Homes lost, store is gone, and the fire is showing no signs of slowing.
— Kelsie Kilawna (Marchand) (@kelsiemarchand) August 16, 2021
This is not the first time properties have been lost to this fire. White Rock Lake fire damaged properties in Monte Lake, Westwold and the Bouleau Lake areas between Kamloops and Vernon in early August.
The full extent of the recent damage is unclear at this time. The Central Okanagan Emergency Services says that the area was under an evacuation order, and many people had been out of their homes for weeks, therefore there are no reports of any injuries or fatalities.
It’s very windy and not looking good this afternoon. I can see the fire front down towards Killiney Beach and Fintry from my parents’ place, plus the main smoke plume from where it’s burning further north. ???? pic.twitter.com/B4nWR5iAfx
— Regan Eby (@monksandbones) August 15, 2021
The BC Wildfire Services says due to significant fire activity Sunday, they are now reassessing containment lines.
“Overnight crews were re-organized and distributed to work on objectives at OKIB at the Six Mile area and on the southern part of the fire along Okanagan Lake near Fintry Park / Ewing. There was extensive and significant structural impact along Westside Road last night,” BC Wildfire Service said.
In a conference Monday afternoon, Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth is begging people not to travel to any fire zones.
“This is not the time to visit or travel through, for those who live in the region. We are not asking you to leave, but [get] ready to go if you are under an evacuation alerts, and that changes to an evacuation order.”
Meanwhile, sources have confirmed to NEWS 1130 that Premier John Horgan is on vacation in Atlantic Canada.
When asked about what kind of message that sends to British Columbians in fire zones, Farnworth defended the premier’s decision to be out-of-province.
“Our premier has been in complete solidarity with all the people of British Columbia, whether they have been affected by wildfires, or whether they are fighting the wildfires on the ground, every single day,” adding that the premier is briefed on the wildfire situation every day.
South of the White Rock Lake fire, the Mount Law fire near West Kelowna, has also damaged some properties according to early reports. But how many has not been determined.
The fire is burning north of Highway 97C, southwest of the neighbourhood of Glenrosa in West Kelowna.
“Due to evolving conditions crews have not been able to complete a full assessment of structure damage,” the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations said online.
Evacuees can pre-register with Evacuee Registration & Assistance. Emergency Support Services (ESS) reception centre is open until 6 p.m. at 1480 Sutherland Ave, Kelowna.
Killiney Beach waterfront has been closed as a result of the fire and boaters are being asked to avoid areas of Okanagan Lake to allow air tankers and helicopters room to work.
There are several evacuation orders and alerts in effect, made worse as major highways into and out of the Okanagan have also been impacted by the fires.
Highway 97 near Westside Rd is closed as a result of the wildfire according to Drive BC. The highway is also close near Falkland.
PLEASE RETWEET (photo from #Coquihalla last night)
Prepare for highway closures due to #BCWildfires – we may have to take action with limited notice.
Avoid non-essential travel to/within impacted areas to avoid traffic congestion on evacuation routes: https://t.co/QKhf3bl9Cl pic.twitter.com/ZUyhpE2AXe
— BC Transportation (@TranBC) August 16, 2021
Many evacuees have been forced to stay with family and friends, but getting to their destination is made more difficult due to a major highway closure between Hope and Merritt.
Drive BC says Highway 5 is closed and more highway closures could be coming as wildfires continue to burn out-of-control.
For the latest on road conditions head to drivebc.ca
With files from Martin MacMahon