iN PHOTOS: The devastation left behind by the White Rock Lake wildfire near Vernon | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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iN PHOTOS: The devastation left behind by the White Rock Lake wildfire near Vernon

An old hot rod was among the property destroyed by the White Rock Lake wildfire in the North Westside community.
August 24, 2021 - 6:00 PM

The huge White Rock Lake wildfire burning out of control west of Vernon claimed 78 homes earlier this month when it roared through the Ewings Landing and Killiney areas on the north westside of Okanagan Lake.

Members of the media were invited into heavily damaged community today, Aug. 24, by the emergency officials.

The destruction was not concentrated in any one area, but rather sporadic throughout the rural neighbourhoods.

Some of the destroyed homes were surrounded by green vegetation on their properties, while some of the surviving houses had sections carpeted with blackness after the inferno came within metres.

In one ravaged neighbourhood, a family of deer could be seen wandering through backyards, snacking on the patches of shrubs that were unaffected by the fire.

There is still no time frame for when evacuated residents will be allowed to return. The wildfire is still burning out of control, and compounding that risk are danger trees, unstable soil and downed power lines, Central Okanagan Regional District fire services manager Ross Kotscherofski said today.

READ MORE: The real cost of refusing to evacuate the White Rock Lake wildfire in the Okanagan

During the evening of Aug. 16 – the night of the homes were destroyed – weather conditions seemed to be calming down after a day of aggressive behaviour, but as crews were getting ready to wrap up around 10 p.m., fire activity picked up heavily and flames began travelling downhill at Rank 5 and Rank 6. A Rank 6 wildfire is the highest on the scale.

Resources were soon diverted from the Mount Law wildfire in the Central Okanagan.

When it became apparent the flames were moving into the communities, crews had to triage, deciding which homes couldn’t be saved.

Having to watch fires consume homes was devastating for firefighters, Kotscherofski said.

A chimney was one of the few parts of the home that survived the wildfire.
A chimney was one of the few parts of the home that survived the wildfire.

“When they see a fire they want to put it out. In this case you just have too many homes on fire," he said.

Fire activity was “scary,” he said, especially as it crept in behind crews, requiring them to get pulled back.

READ MORE: Okanagan firefighter lost home to White Rock Lake wildfire

This home appears to be damaged but not beyond repair.
This home appears to be damaged but not beyond repair.

Kotscherofski feels confident that crews saved everything they could have.

Criticism “definitely affects them,” he said, having spoken with members of the North Westside Fire Rescue.

“They know they did everything they possibly could… You have to go after the ones you can save and that’s what firefighters did that night. It was a long fire fight. Everyone was exhausted in the morning.”


To contact a reporter for this story, email Dan Walton or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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