July 19, 2014 - 4:32 PM
WEST KELOWNA – Despite the cooler weather and some rain showers Saturday, the Smith Creek wildfire in West Kelowna is still a threat to homes in the area.
While north and central parts of the province saw the fire danger ratings downgraded to low or moderate, the Southern Interior still has high to extreme ratings.
About 200 firefighters from Eastern Canada have arrived this weekend to help fight the 159 fires blazing across the province.
Ten evacuation orders or alerts are in effect, the largest being at Smith Creek, where 2,500 people were asked to leave their homes on Thursday.
Jason Luciw of the Central Okanagan Regional District Emergency Operations Centre said the Smith Creek order is expected to stay in place for the immediate future.
"Until we get a handle on the fire and we're comfortable where it's at, we have to keep the orders in place," Luciw said. "RCMP are patrolling the area and blockading the area to make sure that the area is properly evacuated."
Displaced people have been asked to stay with friends and family, and those who have nowhere to go have been issued hotel passes, he said.
Some people have even contacted emergency services to offer their homes for evacuees to stay in, Luciw said.
"It's really encouraging to see how the community steps up and offers to help in a situation like this," he said.
Fire information officer Tracy Wynnyk said the Smith Creek fire has been 30 per cent contained, up from 20 per cent on Friday.
"Right now, things are looking really good," she said.
She said higher humidity and cooler weather has stopped the 2.6-square-kilometre blaze from spreading.
There has not been much rain, she said.
Crews will be working the west flank and the head of the fire on the ridge Saturday.
The risk to the hydro lines providing power to West Kelowna and Peachland is not as great as it was Friday, according to the Emergency Operations Centre. Fire retardant guards are in place around the power lines.
Emergency response personnel request that the public avoid the Smith Creek area so emergency responders can effectively perform their duties, boaters stay away from the active area, monitor www.cordemergency.ca, www.facebook.com/CORDEmergency or www.twitter.com/CO_Emerg for confirmed information about the situation, please only call 911 in case of emergency and if you have questions call 250-469-8490.
(ADAM PROSKIW /InfoTel Multimedia)
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- with files from The Canadian Press
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