UPDATE: 6 p.m.
The Central Okanagan Emergency Operations does not expect any changes to evacuation orders in West Kelowna overnight.
Additionally, with cooler temperatures and few changes to report, over the course of the day, the next news release and Community Update will likely be issued on Tuesday, September 5, unless wildfire behaviour escalates.
The McDougall Creek Wildfire remains ‘not held and out of control’ according to BC Wildfire, while the blazes near Kelowna and Lake Country are now considered held and under control.
However, the wildfire near West Kelowna has remained relatively calm thanks to cooler weather allowing BC Wildfire to continue their work, said West Kelowna Fire Chief Jason Brolund.
“The public should continue to take comfort over the long weekend knowing that our crews are here, and will remain here, regardless of what day it is. We will continue to respond aggressively as needed to protect the West Kelowna and Westbank First Nation communities,” said Brolund.
Visit cordemergency.ca for more information and maps of evacuation alerts and orders.
UPDATE: 2 p.m.
BC Hydro crews have been hard at work replacing power poles damaged by the McDougall Creek fire.
On Aug. 29, crews had replaced 90 power poles and by Friday nearly 130 were back in place.
There are about 120 workers on the ground, who will continue work throughout the weekend.
BC Hydro said while crews are making good progress they are dealing with challenging terrain that makes restoration more complicated.
In some areas, pole replacement requires drilling and hammering into rock, which can slow work down,” stated BC Hydro.
Despite these challenges, BC Hydro hopes to have a portion of customers on Westside Road restored by mid-next week.
The McDougall Creek wildfire caused significant damage to the electrical infrastructure in the area – about 27 kilometres of power lines, 359 poles and 66 pieces of other equipment needed to be replaced.
As the calendar turns to September, the McDougall Creek wildfire continues to burn at the west and southwest flanks.
Over the last two days, despite cooler temperatures, the fire received a minimal amount of rain, according to BC Wildfire Services.
On Thursday, fire crews established safe access and egress routes to the Powers Creek drainage area. Reppel crews also completed the helipad construction north of the area and heavy machinery ensured Smith Creek Road is also safe for ground crews. Above Glenrosa, fire crews are also safely engaging in direct attacks in the blaze.
Structure protection crews have a plan in place for the Glenrosa community and more than 250 members are on scene ready if the fire spreads.
Additional hand crews are mopping up from the 11-kilometre marker on Bear Main Forest Service Road and working towards Hidden Creek Forest Service Road, as well as working from Bald Range to Terrace Road. Crews are continuing to use small hand-scale ignitions to clean up the fire’s edge and remove any small pockets of fuel that remain.
Heavy machinery crews are also continuing a process called ‘day lighting’, in which they are working along Bear Main Road and Jack Pine Road, limiting hot spots to jump existing roads.
In the same area, heavy machinery is building a guard by connecting Bear Main Forest Service Road around the west side of Crystal Mountain and back around into Glenrosa Road, continuing east above the community. While doing this, pre-existed forest service roads are being used as much as possible.
In total, BC Wildfire Services currently has 11 helicopters, 262 firefighters, 29 operational staff, 6 structure protection personnel, 48 pieces of heavy equipment, and an incident management team covering the blaze.
The RCMP and BC Hydro are also on scene.
While temperatures are expected to reach 24 C on Friday with the sun shining in the afternoon, BC Wildfire Services isn’t expecting much of an increase in fire activity as it’s supposed to reach single-digit temperatures again overnight.
There are an estimated 463 properties are under evacuation order and 20,053 properties on evacuation alert. Of the properties on order, 283 are within RDCO Electoral Area West, 142 are within the City of West Kelowna and 38 are within Westbank First Nation.
All evacuation orders and alerts remain the same at this time. Residents can visit the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations map for more information.
It was announced on Wednesday that residents who lost their homes will receive a phone call about a bus service that will take them to their property but they are not allowed to get out of the bus.
On Friday, Aug. 25, BC Wildfire Services implemented an area restriction order which remains in effect until Sept. 8 or under rescinded. This order is in place for public safety because of the following hazards:
•Heavy equipment and chainsaw operators: Heavy equipment and chainsaw operators can’t hear or see you when operating equipment.
•Ash pits: Deep, intensely burning stumps and tree roots may result in hot ashpits underground that can lead to severe burns if you step or fall into one.
•Falling trees: Drought and burnt-out tree roots cause unstable trees that may fall at any time, especially if it’s windy.
Throughout the long weekend, additional conservation officers will be on-site enforcing the restriction order. Anyone found in the restriction area will receive a $1,150 fine.
Transport Canada and the BC Wildfire Service prohibit the use of drones of any size near a wildfire. The operation of any aircraft not associated with fire suppression activities within a radius of five nautical miles around a fire, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones), is illegal. Anyone found interfering with wildfire control efforts may face penalties of up to $100,000 and or up to one year in jail.
Black Press Media will keep updated throughout the day.