Central Okanagan officials to start calling about 70 property owners who lost structures in White Rock Lake fire

Damage estimate increases

UPDAT 11:15 p.m.

Central Okanagan Emergency Operations now say about 70 properties along Westside Road were “significantly damaged” in the White Rock Lake fire Sunday evening.

Estimates earlier Monday had suggested 50-60 properties were hit in the Ewings Landing and Killiney areas.

“It is taking us longer than anticipated to confirm properties and owner contact information for the impacted area. Given the gravity of this news for home owners we are being diligent in confirming these identities,” says Brian Reardon, director, Central Okanagan Emergency Operations. “We sympathize with and understand that residents are anxiously awaiting for updates about the status of their property.

“EOC officials are working tirelessly to provide information to property owners as soon as possible. We anticipate to start our calls tomorrow morning.”

The fire remains active and out of control and there are areas that assessment crews were not able to access for their safety. It is possible once it is safe to conduct further assessments that additional properties could have sustained significant damage.

No further information about damages to properties will be provided at this time. Property owners will be contacted directly.

Property owners in the Ewings Landing and Killiney area who have not yet registered with ESS, including owners who do not reside at the property, are encouraged to do so through the website: https://ess.gov.bc.ca/. This is one way that officials are able to confirm properties and their owners for contact.

The Okanagan Indian Band is also going through a similar process and the 70 structure estimate only includes properties within the Central Okanagan Regional District. There have been confirmed losses on OKIB land as well.

UPDATE: 8:40 p.m.

The White Rock Lake wildfire continues to burn at an estimated 64,720 hectares in size.

According to BC Wildfire, officers have re-established work objectives in active suppression response areas after intense fire activity on all areas of the wildfire yesterday.

"Crews, equipment, and aerial resources will continue to defend remaining guard and containment lines that are still operational."

"New guard lines have been identified and construction has begun on the northeast flank. On the southwest flank, heavy equipment operators are constructing a guard line and crews are actively mopping up," BC Wildfire said.

On the northwest flank, west of Falkland, a planned ignition helped to hold the wildfire and crews found little growth experienced in that area.

"Structure protection specialists and BCWS crews are working 24/7 around the communities most affected. The most significant growth was in the northeast, from Naswhito Creek across Six Mile Creek, and on the east flank down into Okanagan Indian Band IR#1 and across Westside road in the Fintry Park/Ewing area."

"Poor visibility today grounded all fixed-wing aircraft including air tankers. Helicopters assisted in suppression response throughout the day on all areas of the wildfire with crews," BC Wildfire added.

UPDATE: 4:50 p.m.

A much-loved Westside landmark was levelled by the White Rock Lake wildfire, Sunday.

As many had feared, the Little Kingdom store on Westside Road was destroyed.

It's among 50 to 60 structures lost to the fire.

Mark Pearce shared a photo of the destruction, Monday, to the White Rock Lake Fire Information Page on Facebook.

The post has received numerous comments lamenting the loss of the popular pit stop, which included a gas bar, convenience store, and offered everything from fresh baking to clothing and hardware.

It was a popular destination for locals as well as vacationers at cabins and campsites along the Westside.

Meanwhile, the Regional District of North Okanagan said in a Monday afternoon update that it is working closely with the BC Wildfire Service to get information out to residents of the area.

The wildfire service is continuously reassessing containment lines and objectives, the RDNO says. However, due to poor visibility, aircraft have currently been grounded.

Evacuation orders remain in effect.

There are currently 219 wildland firefighters, 143 structural protection personnel, 16 helicopters, 18 danger tree assessors/ fallers, 64 pieces of heavy equipment along with the BC Wildfire Service incident management team and additional support staff assigned to the fire.

Photo: Contributed
Fire damage in Ewings Landing.

UPDATE: 2:40 p.m.

Structural damage assessment has begun on the White Rock Lake wildfire, which damaged 50-60 structures overnight.

Homes were lost in the Ewings Landing and Killiney Beach areas.

Officials will be working to contact property owners as possible, the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre says.

Wildfire evacuees can now register by phone by calling the ESS call centre at 1-833-498-3770.

Meanwhile, crews continue active suppression efforts on the northeast face of the fire.

"We continue to ask everyone on evacuation order to please leave immediately to allow crews to focus on fire suppression. Last night, the fire rescue boat needed to be pulled off of fire suppression duties to rescue people who had not left the Killiney area," the EOC reiterated.

The BC Wildfire Service has updated the size of the fire to 62,273 hectares.

UPDATE: 1:20 p.m.

The Okanagan Indian Band says its is compiling a list of all properties impacted by the White Rock Lake fire.

"We are currently compiling a list of all the properties within the affected area to clarify which structures have been lost and which are still standing," the band said in a midday update on Monday.

"Confirmation by staff on the ground is still ongoing and we will be creating a full list of affected structures."

"Once we have a list of affected structures, we will be reaching out to families privately in person where possible with the help of support services."

Meanwhile, the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre says as many as 60 structures have been lost in the fire.

UPDATE: 12:20 p.m.

Fifty to 60 structures have been lost to the White Rock Lake wildfire, the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre says.

In a video conference with media, Monday, EOC director Brian Reardon said the exact number is not yet known.

Those homes were in the Killiney Beach and Ewings Landing areas.

Reardon said conditions Sunday night were "extremely unsettling" and that fire crews are working "as hard as they can."

He called the last 24 hours "a big challenge" and said the fire is still burning out of control in residential areas as conditions change rapidly.

He expressed frustration that North Westside Fire Rescue had to pull its boat away from the fire fight to rescue about 10 people who had ignored evacuation orders and stayed behind. He also urged boaters to stay away from the area to allow space for firefighting aircraft to work.

Approximately 3,000 people from 1,463 properties remain evacuated due to the fire.

BC Wildfire Service incident commander Mark Healey said rain is hoped for this afternoon and moderate temperatures in the low to mid 20s, which will help in the fire fight, but that north winds are forecast tonight, which may pose a challenge.

He said the fire has shown extreme behaviour in the Killiney area and noted crews were pulled out of the area about 2 a.m. after the fire crossed both sides of Westside Road and blocked firefighters to both the north and south. Until they could safely leave, they sheltered in the Westshore Estates area.

Healey said it is highly unlikely today or tonight that any ember showers could cross the lake to areas of Vernon that remain on evacuation alert. However, the fire did "spot" or jump more than 2.5 kilometres ahead in the Six Mile Creek area on Sunday.

Crews are expected to further assess structural losses this afternoon to get a better handle on numbers.

UPDATE: 11:50 a.m.

The mayor of Spallumcheen says evacuation orders and alerts issued Sunday evening for areas affected by the White Rock Lake wildfire will remain in place until further notice.

Mayor Christine Fraser says no structures have been lost in the township, however she is asking residents to be vigilant on their properties and to watch for spot fires.

"We do know that the fire with the winds yesterday moved somewhat closer towards the township, but at this time fire crews are hopeful with the weather changing a little bit that they will be able to have more time to get ahead of it," said Fraser.

Fire crews and RCMP are actively monitoring spot fires and providing assistance with evacuation orders.

"Our fire department is doing roving inspections to check for spot fires, we also have RCMP manning the evacuation order areas to make sure that everything is safe in those areas where residents have been evacuated," said Fraser.

Some larger farm owners in the evacuation area have opted to remain at their properties to protect their animals.

"We do have some of our larger farms that we do know have chosen to shelter in place, so once you are evacuated out of an order area, you are not allowed back in other than potentially for temporary access through an access permit that would need to be applied for at this township office," said Fraser.

Mayor of Spallumcheen, Christine Fraser, Aug. 16 on White Rock Lake wildfire

UPDATE: 11:15 a.m.

The BC Wildfire Service says there was "extensive and significant structural impact" from the White Rock Lake fire along Westside Road overnight.

In a brief update Monday morning, the BCWS says crews are now reassessing all of their containment lines around the fire, to determine where the massive fire breached.

The strong winds grew the fire along its northeast flank, from Naswhito Creek across Six Mile Creek, and on the east flank, down into Okanagna Indian Band I.R. #1 and into the Fintry Park and Ewings Landing area. The fire is now estimated at 64,720 hectares in size.

"Crews, equipment, and aerial resources will continue to defend remaining guards and containment lines," the BCWS said. "Structure protection and BCWS crews are working 24/7 around affected communities."

Overnight, the significant growth of the fire forced crews to reorganize, and more crews were moved to the Six Mile Creek area on OKIB land, as well as to the south in the Fintry and Ewings Landing area.

Photos and videos from the area show multiple homes burning overnight, as well as the Little Kingdom Gas Bar on OKIB land.

UPDATE: 9:55 a.m.

The BC Wildfire Service confirms multiple structure losses on the Westside Sunday night to the White Rock Lake wildfire.

"We did lose structures last night, but we don't know how many at this point," says fire information officer Noelle Kekula.

She says the fire showed Rank 4 to 5 behaviour with steady winds all night long.

Rank 4 refers to a "highly vigorous surface fire with torching, or passive crown fire," while Rank 5 means an "extremely vigorous surface fire or active crown fire."

"It was a very challenging night," Kekula said Monday.

UPDATE: 9:25 a.m.

Residents of Killiney Beach are beginning to share images of their burned homes.

While Central Okanagan Emergency Operations reports "significant damage" to multiple structures in the area, Ashley Bridgen shared a photo to the White Rock Lake Fire Information Page on Facebook of her home on Killarney Place engulfed in flames.

"Our place burning to the ground," she wrote.

UPDATE: 8:50 a.m.

Central Okanagan Emergency Operations reports significant damage to multiple structures in the Killiney Beach area overnight as drought conditions and high winds increased fire action on the White Rock Lake wildfire.

"Due to evolving conditions, crews have not been able to complete a full assessment of structure damage," the emergency operations centre reports.

More information will be provided to property owners and the media as it becomes available, the EOC said shortly before 9 a.m.

"Cooler temperatures are forecast for today and tomorrow, but fires remain out of control and are expected to be active today. Central Okanagan and BC Wildfire crews will continue suppression efforts on the ground and in the air today. People are asked to stay away from areas close to the fires to ensure the access and safety of first responders. Boaters should avoid areas of the lake being used by air support."

Residents in evacuation alert areas are advised to be ready to leave their home at a moment’s notice. They should be prepared to be away from their home for an extended period.

ORIGINAL: 5 a.m.

Firefighters were battling the White Rock Lake wildfire along Westside Road all night, where there are fears that structures may have been lost.

Power was lost to most of Westside Road north of Shelter Cove at 11:50 p.m., according to BC Hydro. Residents around that time reported seeing numerous fire trucks heading up Westside Road from West Kelowna.

A resident of the Killiney Beach area took to social media overnight Sunday to say she watched her home on her security cameras until flames hit it. When power was lost, so did the feed to the many security cameras residents were watching over their homes with.

The Central Okanagan Regional District and BC Wildfire Service has not yet confirmed any structural losses along Westside Road.

In a late-night video update, the BC Wildfire Service said the White Rock Lake fire took "a significant run" along the Westside of Okanagan Lake Sunday afternoon and night.

Incident commander Mark Healey says increased fire activity was seen on the southern flank of the fire above Killiney Beach and along Westside Road to the Six Mile Creek area. He said crews would be battling the flames all night.

The weather Monday is expected to be a mix of sun and cloud and a slight chance of showers. Cooler temperatures with a high of 22 C. Light at times gusty NW winds. An upper low tracking across northern Washington State will give mainly cloudy skies and scattered showers on Tuesday.

This story will be updated throughout the day.

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