WEST KELOWNA - Lots of good news today from the 560 hectare Westside Road fire as evacuated residents are allowed to return home and the blaze is 25 per cent contained.
The Emergency Operation Centre advises that effective at 11:00 a.m. today, July 24, the Evacuation Order for the Shelter Cove/Westside Road Fire is downgraded to an Evacuation Alert.
These properties will however, remain under an Evacuation Alert and residents should be prepared to leave their homes on short notice in the event that conditions change and the Evacuation Order is reinstated.
The fire has 25 per cent containment however those returning should be aware that active fire suppression continues in the area west of Westside Road. The area is not safe for the public and for safety reasons people should stay out. Visible smoke may continue rising from the fire site. Those returning may encounter various hazards on private properties as a result of the forest fire. Again, please stay out of fire-affected areas.
There has been some growth on the southwest flank of the fire, but this new growth is not threatening any structures or communities, according to B.C. Wildfire Management. The fire is now estimated at 560 hectares in size. BC Wildfire crews were supported by heavy equipment overnight working to establish control lines in this area.
Today, crews are working to reinforce and extend control lines on the north and south flanks by establishing hand-guard and fuel-free areas. Crews will also begin to establish control lines on the west flank of the fire and continue to mop-up the area along Westside Road.
More than 60 firefighters are being supported by seven helicopters, four pieces of heavy equipment and airtanker groups as necessary.
Westside Road will remain closed between Cinnabar Creek and La Casa Resort, except to residents and those staying in the Alert area. There will be no through traffic permitted at this time. Check points at Cinnabar Creek and La Casa will require proof of residency or rental accommodation in the Alert area, to enter to the area. For the latest road information, visit the Drive BC website at drivebc.ca.
There is no electrical service in the area under Evacuation Alert. Lines were de-energized at the request of and for the safety of emergency services responders. B.C. Hydro is working to restore service as quickly as possible. This may also impact the availability of other services such as water or septic depending on the source and provider. For details on the status of electrical service visit www.bchydro.com and select the Power Outages menu option.
With the electrical service outage, those returning may have concerns for food safety. Interior Health says during a power outage, food in a fridge or freezer may not be safe to eat. ‘When in doubt, throw it out’. Specific information about Food, Water Quality, Septic Systems and Fire Retardants is available at:
The Emergency Support Services reception centre is now closed. With the lifting of the Evacuation Order allowing affected people to return, ESS advises that the referral forms issued at the reception centre will no longer be valid regardless of the expiry date.
For the most up-to-date information on emergencies in the Central Okanagan, visit cordemergency.ca.
For visitors planning their holiday in the Central Okanagan:
The fire area is located approximately 17 kilometres northwest of downtown Kelowna. The City of Kelowna and City of West Kelowna are located well away from the actual fire scene.
All weekend events in Kelowna and the Central Okanagan are proceeding as originally scheduled.
Roads in the Kelowna and West Kelowna area remain open are not affected by the Shelter Cove fire, except for a portion of Westside Road between Cinnabar Creek and La Casa Resort.
Visitors with respiratory concerns can monitor air quality at bcairquality.ca.
It is anticipated that the next update will be available after 10 a.m.
— This story was updated at 8:38 a.m., Friday, July 24, 2015, to note the fire is now 25 per cent contained
— This story was updated at 10:58 a.m., Friday, July 24, 2015 to note the Evacuation Order has been downgraded to an Evacuation Alert.