Premier to visit Kelowna wildfire area

Firefighters from Central and South Okanagan departments will work on protecting homes today

Premier John Horgan will be visiting wildfire affected regions across B.C. today, including Kelowna.

The Premier, who will be accompanied by Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Doug Donaldson, will stop at Kamloops, Cache Creek, Ashcroft and will do an aerial tour of Philpott Road fire.

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

Among Premier Horgan’s first actions in government were to extend the wildfire state of emergency, increase payments to evacuees and strike a cabinet task force on the fires. Since then, the government has pledged financial support for small businesses and allocated up to $200,000 to tourism operations affected by the fires.

As of Monday at 8 a.m. the Philpott Road fire is sitting at 465-hectares and BC Wildfire says there is 20 per cent containment.

“Overnight structural firefighters and those from the BC Wildfire Service continued monitoring and firefighting efforts,” reads the latest press release from CORD Emergency.

“Today, approximately 90 firefighters from several Central and South Okanagan departments will be working on protecting homes and buildings throughout the fire area using almost two dozen trucks and water tenders. BC Wildfire crews and equipment are also co-ordinating their firefighting plans for the day ahead.”

The Evacuation Order remains in place affecting approximately 600 residents from just over 200 properties. Officials will continue to assess the status of the Order and when it is safe, will make adjustments. Another 600 residents from 263 properties were allowed to return to their homes yesterday and remain under an Evacuation Alert and should be prepared to leave on short notice should fire conditions change.

Other than household pets, like cats and dogs, animals are not allowed back in at this time, due to the uncertainty about fire behaviour and the potential for Evacuation Orders to be re-instated if necessary.

Residents on the Falcon Ridge water system are restricted to household use only – no irrigation permitted to preserve water supply to fight the fire.

The Emergency Support Services reception centre at Willow Park Church along Highway 33 in Kelowna will be open today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Highway 33 remains closed this morning. The latest information can be found at Drive BC www.drivebc.ca.