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Kelowna  

Westside Road residents finally return after month-long evacuation

Evacuation orders lifted

UPDATE 3:05 p.m.

The evacuation order issued for RDNO Electoral Area “B” properties on the west of Okanagan Lake and above Westside Road due to the White Rock Lake wildfire has been rescinded.

All homes in the rescind area are reverted to evacuation alert status.

Residents must remain ready to leave their homes again on short notice if the fire situation changes. The properties on Bouleau Lake and Pinaus Lake remain on evacuation order.

The Okanagan Indian Band has also made changes to their evacuation alerts and orders, lifting nearly all the orders in the area. Parker Coe residents, however, are being told to delay their return home until Sept. 5 to allow the water and sewage systems to be recharged. Details here.


UPDATE 1:33 p.m.

Regional District of Central Okanagan staff were on site Thursday and Friday to greet residents as they re-entered the North Westside communities affected by the White Rock Lake wildfire, handing out more than 750 returning-home information guides

The Central Okanagan Emergency Operations will continue to assist residents as part of the recovery phase.

“Returning home after a wildfire brings a wave of varied emotions and if you need to talk to someone upon your return home, please know that you are not alone,” says Corie Griffiths, COEOC director.

“Remember to also keep connected with neighbours, friends or family or reach out to BC’s Mental Health Help Line at 310-6789 or call 811.”

Central Okanagan Emergency Operations staff is available to field calls. Dial 250-469-8490. Leave a message after hours.

The Regional District of Central Okanagan has set up a dedicated recovery office for returning area residents and property owners who experienced significant structural damage. Information and resources, including the Returning Home Information Guide, are available online.

Starting Tuesday, Sept. 7 residents can email [email protected] or call 250-469-6111.

Eighteen properties on Bouleau Lake Road remain under evacuation order and properties from Estamont, Ewings Landing, Killiney Beach and Westshore Estates remain under evacuation alert due to the White Rock Lake wildfire. No change to this status is expected over the weekend.


ORIGINAL 4 a.m.

Many residents along Westside Road returned home Friday after a month-long evacuation due to the White Rock Lake wildfire.

Residents of Ewings Landing, Killiney Beach, Estamont and West Shore Estates neighbourhoods had been out of their homes for almost a month. More than 70 structures were significantly damaged in the area.

“Everything that I’ve seen and heard from my amazing firefighters is that it's been an extremely positive response, and I would imagine that they’re all extremely happy to come back and see homes that they haven’t seen for awhile, and see some normality,” said fire chief with the North Westside Fire Rescue, Alex VanBruksvoort.

After being away from their homes for an extended period of time, residents are being warned about what they might be dealing with when they open their doors. “Being in such a smoky environment, people will need to air out their homes, and those who couldn't clean out their fridges and freezers will also need to be dealt with safely,” said VanBruksvoort.

Those who need to get rid of household items will be able to do so at the North Westside Transfer Station between 8 a.m. and noon. There will be no limit on the volume of waste, but if you’re looking to throw out a fridge, freezer, furniture or other appliances, you must call 1-855-238-9350 to book a pick up or inquire about self-drop off options.

Humans were not the only ones displaced from their homes. Many animals lost their habitats because of the devastation from the fire, so VanBruksvoort is reminding returnees to be mindful of their surroundings.

“When you’re driving down Westside Road, and you think you can drive the 70 or 50 in the area, you know maybe just slow it down. There are a ton of deer, black bears, and I’ve even noticed birds because of the vast amount of smoke in the atmosphere. Slow it down,” said VanBruksvoort.

Many evacuees came home to an untouched structure, while others will need to replace lost possessions, and some need to start all over again. No matter what residents returned to, VanBruksvoort wants to remind those in the area to take care of their mental health.

"I would say to everyone that's returning, please reach out to somebody if you’re feeling some type of way that isn't normal for you. Reach out to a professional, don't go in alone, don't do it alone. There's lots of help out there for you, and even if you want to phone, then I'll pick up the phone and tell you how amazing this community is and how we’re gonna rebuild through the people,” said VanBruksvoort.

The RDCO has set up a dedicated recovery office for returning area residents and property owners who experienced significant structural damage. Information and resources, including the Returning Home Information guide, are available here.



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