British Columbia

Kelowna wildfire evacuation rescinded

Officials say an evacuation order affecting about 550 people in West Kelowna, B.C., was rescinded Tuesday evening.
A wildfire outside West Kelowna, B.C., forced the evacuation of about 550 residents and campers on Monday night. Jackie Sharkey/CBC

Officials say an evacuation order affecting about 550 people in West Kelowna, B.C., was rescinded Tuesday evening.

The evacuation order was rescinded as of 6 p.m. local time because significant progress was made on the Bear Creek fire, and weather conditions appeared to be moving the fire away from nearby homes.

However, the area remained under an evacuation alert and residents were warned to be prepared with little notice should fire conditions change.

Bear Creek Provincial Park was closed and no new visitors were allowed in. However, visitors who were ordered out early Tuesday morning were allowed back inside to collect their belongings.

The fire on the west side of Okanagan Lake grew to 39 hectares Tuesday, despite the efforts of about 60 firefighters, four helicopters and one air tanker.

Fire officials say Tuesday evening the fire was about 30 per cent contained.

Earlier on Tuesday morning, fire information officer Lindsay Carnes said the fire was burning within the boundaries of Bear Creek Provincial Park and was not an immediate threat to the nearest homes and structures, which are about 400 metres away.

Resident of the northern parts of the Sailview Bay area and Westside Road south of Bear Creek Provincial Park remained under an evacuation alert.

The main route in the area, Westside Road, was reopened to single lane alternating traffic through the fire area to provide access as needed for emergency responders and fire crews.

A state of emergency has been declared by the regional district, and an evacuation centre was set up at the Westbank Lions Hall. The evacuees are staying in local hotels in Kelowna and West Kelowna.

Spotted just after dark

The fire started at around 10 p.m. PT Monday, according to Carnes.

"It started in an inaccessible canyon, and winds in the area allowed the fire to grow to over 10 hectares in size," said Carnes.

The fire grew to about 20 hectares overnight and thick smoke could be seen billowing across the lake on Tuesday morning.

Fire officials say the fire was caused by humans, but the specific cause is still under investigation.