UPDATE: 9 p.m.
BC Wildfire Service hasn’t reported any change to the size of the McDougall Creek wildfire as of Saturday evening.
The wildfire in the West Kelowna area is an estimated 12,318 hectares in size, an estimate previously made by BC Wildfire.
Central Okanagan Emergency Operations does not expect to issue any changes to evacuation orders and alerts for the rest of the night.
UPDATE: 8 p.m.
No more evacuation order downgrades are expected in the Central Okanagan this evening, Aug. 26.
On Saturday, more than 600 properties were downgraded from evacuation order to an evacuation alert in Lake Country, parts of West Kelowna and Westbank First Nation IR #10.
There are no longer any properties under evacuation order in Lake Country; those properties have been downgraded to an evacuation alert.
As of 3 p.m. Saturday, about 1,588 properties remain on evacuation order in West Kelowna, 1,114 in the Regional District of Central Okanagan Electoral Area and 38 in Westbank First Nation. There are 15,184 properties in total in the Central Okanagan on evacuation alert.
Property owners on evacuation order can search to see if their property has sustained damage by visiting cordemergency.ca/propertyinfo.
UPDATE: 3 p.m.
All wildfire evacuees in Lake Country are now able to return home.
Central Okanagan Emergency Operations says the evacuation order for all 408 remaining properties in the community has been downgraded to an evacuation alert Saturday afternoon.
While there are no more evacuation orders in the District of Lake Country, properties remain on evacuation alert and residents must continue to be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice and be away for an extended period.
The Clarke Creek wildfire in Lake Country is considered held at 370 hectares, meaning it is not expected to grow any further.
Fire crews remain active in the area managing hot spots in unpopulated and forested areas.
Residents should check the map on cordemergency.ca/map before heading home to confirm their property’s status.
All evacuation orders in Lake Country are expected to be lifted Saturday afternoon, with the Clarke Creek wildfire classified as held at 370 hectares.
“I have great news for our community this morning,” Lake Country mayor Blair Ireland said at a press conference Saturday morning, Aug. 26. “Thanks to the work of all the responders on the ground, our Lake Country fire chief and all those members there, we are planning to downgrade all properties in Lake Country this afternoon from order to alert.”
Ireland said people must wait until evacuation orders are officially downgraded at cordemergency.ca before returning home.
“People must remember, the fire is being held, the fire is not out,” Ireland cautioned, adding crews are still conducting clean-up and removal of danger trees in the area.
Evacuation alerts will remain in place over the weekend, Ireland said, when temperatures are expected to increase.
Temperatures are expected to reach 27 C today with relative humidity in the range of 27 to 32 per cent. There will be cloudy skies with local smoke and a risk of afternoon thunderstorms.
Brad Litke from the BC Wildfire Service said there are currently 202 wildfire firefighters on the ground working on the Grouse Creek wildfire complex. There are also 116 structural firefighters and 28 command staff. Fifteen aircraft have been assigned to the complex along with 39 pieces of heavy equipment assisting the fire suppression efforts.
Litke said BC Hydro is out in full force replacing power poles and restoring power to the affected areas.
“BC Hydro has quite an operation going,” he said. “Definitely unsung heroes, but a large effort I observed this morning.”
Over 900 properties in the Central Okanagan were downgraded from evacuation order to alert yesterday.
West Kelowna Fire Chief Jason Brolund said most of the damage caused by the McDougall Creek wildfire took place in the West Kelowna Estates area as well as Westside Road.
“These are the neighbourhoods where the fire was most devastating, where almost all of the losses in our jurisdiction were sustained,” he said.
“Safety is our number one priority here, safety of all of the people working on the ground as well as safety of you coming home.”
The McDougall Creek wildfire is 12,318 hectares, according to the latest size estimate by BC Wildfire Service.
More to come.