All evacuation orders in Kelowna expected to be lifted by end of Thursday

Evacuees going home soon

UPDATE 11 a.m.

“We're going to get everyone home tonight, and that's a big deal.”

Kelowna Fire Chief Travis Whiting announced Thursday morning that they're hoping to lift all evacuation orders within the City of Kelowna by the end of the day.

The announcement comes after the BC Wildfire Service announced both the Clifton/McKinley wildfire burning in Kelowna and the fire burning in Lake Country's Okanagan Centre area have been classified as “held" as of Thursday morning.

“If you were to ask me on Thursday or Friday of last week, I didn't think we'd be here at this point,” Whiting said.

Evacuees should keep an eye on the Emergency Operations Centre website, and Castanet, for updates on the lifting of evacuation orders. Whiting said the evacuation orders would be lifted neighbourhood by neighbourhood throughout the day, and he asked residents to continue to respect the orders in place and not return home until directed to do so.

Lake Country Fire Chief Darren Lee did not attend Thursday's press conference, and the timeline of lifting evacuation orders in Lake Country is not clear at this time. Castanet has reached out to the Emergency Operations Centre for more information.

Thousands of properties on the west side of Okanagan Lake remain evacuated, as the McDougall Creek fire continues to burn out of control.

Some Lake Country and West Kelowna residents were able to return home late Wednesday, when some evacuation orders were lifted.

Whiting said their main priority for people returning home in Kelowna remains safety.

“We still have some issues within the fire perimeter including danger trees and such, and we need to do a sweep to ensure we've made the homes safe for you to return to,” Whiting said.

“You're not returning home to the same neighbourhood that you left, the fire has burned in very close to a lot of these homes, right into the backyards.”

He asked returning residents to stay out of closed parks and other natural areas while crews work to fall danger trees and ensure the areas that have been hit by fire are safe.

“At the fire hall, the mood is very, very high and very positive this morning,” Whiting said.

“It's been our goal for the past seven days to get all the residents home safely and we couldn't be more excited to see this happen today.”

ORIGINAL 10:20 a.m.

After many days of hard work from hundreds of firefighters from across the province, the two wildfires burning in Kelowna and Lake Country have been designated as “held.”

During Thursday morning's press conference, BC Wildfire Service incident commander Brad Litke announced the wildfires burning in the Clifton/McKinley area and in Lake Country's Okanagan Centre area have officially been classified as held, which means the fires are not likely to spread beyond predetermined boundaries.

The progress on containment comes after four homes were impacted by the Kelowna fire, while three were hit by the Lake Country fire.

The Kelowna fire was sparked near Clifton Road last Thursday night, while the Lake Country fire was started Friday morning.

The news is no doubt welcome for residents across the region, but many people remain evacuated from their homes near both fires. Some evacuation orders were lifted in Lake Country Wednesday night.

Across Okanagan Lake, the McDougall Creek fire remains classified as “out of control.”

More to come.

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