B.C. premier, forests minister, to tour several wildfires, including Kelowna

The Philpott Road wildfire east of Kelowna in the Joe Rich area was sparked on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017.
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KAMLOOPS, B.C. - British Columbia Premier John Horgan and Forests Minister Doug Donaldson are set to visit several Interior cities and towns as firefighters continue to battle scores of wildfires around the province.

Horgan and Donaldson will visit Kamloops, Cache Creek, Ashcroft and Kelowna today, Aug. 28. Near Kelowna a wildfire that broke out Thursday is keeping hundreds of residents out of their homes.

The Central Okanagan Regional District says the fire is 20 per cent contained and has charred just under five square kilometres of bush and trees in the Joe Rich community, about 25 kilometres east of Kelowna.

Evacuation orders for about 600 people were reduced to alerts on Sunday, but orders covering just over 200 properties remained in effect and Highway 33 through the fire zone was closed.

The wildfire service website shows seven new fires were sparked over a 24-hour period on Sunday, with two believed to have been caused by human activity, two by lightning and three under investigation.

One of those was about 13 kilometres east of Squamish, along the Mamquam River, and although it was small, the wildfire service says more crews and equipment were due to be assigned to contain and extinguish it.

The one-day tour by Horgan and Donaldson is meant to give them a better sense of efforts to control wildfires and get evacuees back to their homes.

"People have been working around the clock to help those whose livelihoods and homes have been impacted by the fires. It's important for us to hear first-hand about the devastation and the work being done to get people back on their feet," Horgan says in a news release.

A provincial state of emergency remains in effect.

The wildfire service says 1,123 fires have been reported since the start of the fire season on April 1, burning just over 10,600 square kilometres of timber, bush and grassland.

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