FRIDAY UPDATE: West Kelowna blaze partially contained by firefighters


Emergency officials in the Central Okanagan say despite the rapid spread of the Smith Creek fire outside West Kelowna yesterday, it was relatively quiet overnight. 

More than 2,500 residents from 1,100 homes spent the night elsewhere after the West Kelowna Fire Chief expanded an evacuation order issued earlier in the day again Thursday night.

Another 150 homes along and near Lenz Road, including the Pinewood Villa Mobile Home Park and from 1898 to 2515 Bartley Road, were put on evacuation alert at around 8:30 p.m. PT. Residents there were told to be prepared to leave their home at a moment's notice.

Map: West Kelowna evacuation areas 

West Kelowna's mayor and council also declared a local state of emergency for the municipality's 31,000 residents.

The initial order Thursday afternoon, shortly after the fire broke out, affected only about 200 residents, but was quickly expanded to 1,500 residents  in 585 homes before nearly doubling again at 7 p.m. PT. Thursday.

It's the third time the evacuation order has been expanded since the fire broke out around 1:30 p.m. PT Thursday.

The fire, which was half a hectare when first reported, expanded within hours to 30 hectares, and by Thursday night emergency officials said it had grown to 200 hectares. By Friday morning, it had grown to 250 hectares.

It was burning in the hills behind Smith Creek and Dixie Roads, threatening homes in the neighbourhood immediately below it. 

Officials also clarified that a home and out-building previously thought lost had simply been shrouded in smoke and was actually saved by helicopter bucket crews attacking the blaze.

There were reports of embers falling near homes as police and firefighters went door-to-door telling residents to leave.

Kelowna fire

Smoke from the Smith Creek fire is seen rising above homes in West Kelowna Thursday. (Sticky's candy, Kelowna, B.C.)

The updated evacuation order now includes the following areas: the Smith Creek Neighbourhood, Tallus Ridge Estates, Alexandria Way and Shannon Woods and these specific locations:

  •  3001-3072 Whispering Hills Drive 
  •  Copper Ridge Drive 
  •  Copper Ridge Court 
  •  Copper Ridge Place
  •  Copper Ridge Way 
  •  Iron Ridge Place 
  •  Iron Ridge Road 
  •  Stone Ridge Drive 
  •  Bridal Hill Court 
  •  Bridal Hill Road 
  •  Rhinestone Road 
  •  Wildhorse Drive 
  •  Sageview Road 
  •  Saddleridge Drive 
  •  Sugosa Place 
  •  North side of Salish Road (non-agricultural properties) 
  •  3046-3101 Smith Creek Road 
  •  Summerview Place 
  •  Summerview Court 
  •  Doucette Drive 
  • 3125-3190 Shetler Drive 
  • Telcor Place 
  •  Sandberg Road 
  • Twin Place 

An emergency reception centre has been set up at Mount Boucherie Secondary School, at 2751 Cameron Road in West Kelowna.

Residents needing transportation assistance can call 250-469-8490 for help.

People are also being asked to close windows and doors prior to leaving and to shut off all gas and electrical appliances, except fridges and freezers. Officials advise to gather family, put pets on leashes, and take only essential items like wallets, purses, keys and medicine.

They are also asking people to avoid the Smith Creek area so emergency crews can do their work.

Residents living on the west side of Okanagan Lake in Peachland, West Kelowna and from the Westbank First Nation are being advised that they may lose electricity for an extended period of time and should make adequate preparations, including storing or stocking up on drinking water.

Emergency Management: What to do during an evacuation

With files from the CBC's Brady Strachan