VICTORIA — Evacuation orders for a total of 50 properties in West Kelowna and two other British Columbia wildfire areas were lifted Saturday and downgraded to alert status.
The downgrading of evacuation orders to alerts means dozens of people in the Kamloops, Shuswap and Kelowna areas can return to their homes, but should still be prepared to leave on short notice, regional fire officials said.
Emergency operations at the Central Okanagan Regional District listed the addresses of 50 properties in a statement Saturday afternoon in West Kelowna and the Westbank First Nation community where residents could return to their homes after being under evacuation order.
"Properties in these areas were without power for several days," said the statement. "Those affected by outages are advised to speak with their insurers about what to do with the contents of their home, including spoiled food, fridges and freezers before they begin to discard items."
The West Kelowna area has a program for curbside pickup of ruined fridges and freezers, the statement read.
There are currently 405 properties on evacuation order and 20,011 on evacuation alert in the West Kelowna area.
The area's McDougall Creek wildfire remains classified as out-of-control and is estimated at more than 135 square kilometres.
About 200 properties have been destroyed in the Kelowna area wildfire.
Earlier Saturday, the Thompson-Nicola Regional District said in a statement evacuation orders for 26 properties in the Kamloops and Shuswap Lake areas affected by two separate wildfires were also downgraded to evacuation alerts.
The changes from evacuation orders to alerts involve three properties affected by the ongoing Ross Moore Lake wildfire south of Kamloops and 23 properties ordered evacuated by the Bush Creek East blaze, the regional district said.
The downgraded evacuation orders also allowed officials to expand the alert areas in both the Ross Moore Lake and Bush Creek East wildfire areas, said the regional district.
The regional district advised residents of 11 properties in the Little Shuswap Lake area to access their homes by boat due to fire damage to the local road.
Regional district officials said about 200 homes in the Shuswap lake area have been destroyed or significantly damaged in the Bush Creek East wildfire.
B.C.'s Wildfire Service reported 15 new wildfires over the past 24 hours, bringing the province's number of active blazes to 421.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 2, 2023.
The Canadian Press