Residents of British Columbia’s Shuswap region must wait another day for evacuation orders to lift in wildfire-ravaged areas of the community, complicating the return to school for some students.
The North Okanagan-Shuswap School District says in a message on its website that the year will begin a day late, with a half day of classes on Wednesday for most of its roughly 6,000 students.
The district says students from North Shuswap Elementary, the area where wildfires devastated several communities, won’t start school until next Monday, and will be temporarily relocated almost 50 kilometres away while power is restored and repairs are made.
The Columbia Shuswap Regional District says evacuation orders tied to the Bush Creek East wildfire will drop to alerts on Wednesday, allowing Celista and Magna Bay residents to return in the early afternoon, followed over the next several hours by residents of Scotch Creek, Lee Creek, the Lower East Adams Lake area and Tsútswecw park.
Regional district information officer Tim Conrad says the wildfire has destroyed 176 homes, cabins and other structures in the north Shuswap and damaged another 50.
The Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre rescinded all remaining evacuation alerts on Tuesday for properties in Lake Country and the City of Kelowna, although it said orders and alerts remain in place in West Kelowna and for the Westbank First Nation because the McDougall Creek wildfire remains out of control.
Thousands of people were chased from their homes starting Aug. 17 when the McDougall Creek fire was fanned by strong winds and quickly burned numerous homes.
The BC Wildfire Service says more than 430 fires are currently burning across the province, with 201 still ranked as out of control and 14 rated as fires of note, meaning they are highly visible or continue to threaten property or public safety.
The wildfire service website says there have been just under 2,100 fires since the start of the season on April 1.
Almost $600 million has been spent by the province on wildfire costs by the end of August, almost triple the $204 million set aside in the 2023 budget.