UPDATE 1:20 p.m.
The BC Wildfire Service said online crews will be spending Wednesday mopping up and extinguishing hotspots behind Bartley Road and going direct on the fire’s edge behind property lines and constructing hand guard above the Shannon Heights area.
Heavy equipment machine line has been constructed between Shannon Lakes estate and Bartley Road, crews will be securing this section of guard using small scale hand ignitions to remove unburnt fuel between the fires edge and the guard. Line locators are also working with heavy equipment to assess machine lines to connect the fire’s edge into an old fire scar from 2015. Crews will also be working to extinguish the fires edge in behind the West Kelowna Road neighbourhood.
On Tuesday, crews did mop up behind Bartley Road and today are setting their sights on assessing direct lines above Smith Creek with heavy machinery. Unit crews are looking for handline opportunities above Talus Ridge in the old Smith Creek burn area.
On Wednesday, for the first time since the incident began, BC Hydro was able to turn the power back on at the Rose Valley Dam and restore power to the city’s water treatment chlorinator. A do not consume water notice remains in place for the entire Rose Valley water system.
Towards the north end of the fire, line locators, danger tree assessors and fallers, and heavy equipment are working. Line locators continue working with heavy equipment to construct machine guard, using existing road systems where possible. Machine guard from Westside Road to Bear Main has been completed and heavy equipment will be working to strengthen that line.
Crews are still running sprinkler systems on neighbourhoods near the fire lines.
More info on the lifting of some evacuation orders is expected to be released later today.
Wildfire smoke conditions and visibility have significantly improved over the past 24 hours at the Grouse Complex of wildfires in the Okanagan Valley. pic.twitter.com/6oTxDy4vBG— BC Wildfire Service (@BCGovFireInfo) August 23, 2023
UPDATE 11:20 a.m.
Fire officials in West Kelowna and the North Westside provided more detail Wednesday about properties damaged by the McDougall Creek wildfire and said they expect some evacuation orders to lift Wednesday.
North Westside fire chief Ross Kotscherofski says they have now determined 90 properties are either partially or fully damaged, ranging from “damaged landscaping to total loss.”
“I want to stress that these are not structures but these are properties as some properties such as the Lake Okanagan Resort have several structures on one property,” Kotscherofski said, noting that the resort has almost 195 units on the property.
West Kelowna fire chief Jason Brolund says within the City of West Kelowna and WFN lands there are 84 properties with some level of damage. “Again to qualify, this is properties with damage not structures.”
Brolund said they are working to lift evacuation orders as quickly as they can, noting that his own family is still out of their home.
“I'm running out of underwear too folks, I get it.”
Crews are rapidly trying to make neighbourhoods safe for a return, but the fire remains active. “We're doing our best to get you home. We're making progress. There will be additional evacuation orders which will be rescinded today.”
It is expected that some orders will be lifted in Kelowna and Lake Country on Wednesday as well. Fire chiefs from those communities were not in attendance Wednesday. Officials said Wednesday would be their last live news conference as each community moves into their own recovery process.
Brolund stressed that the orders will be lifted in “small pieces” as crews ensure homes are safe from fire, utilities are working and the streets are clear of firefighting equipment.
“We want to avoid having to evacuate you a second time if this incident escalates,” he said.
Brolund called the firefighting overnight “sporadic” and “spotty.”
“It was quieter last night than it was the night before, and I hope we can continue to build upon that.”
Brad Litke, BC Wildfire Service incident commander, said there were 40 structural firefighters, 22 wildland firefighters on the blaze overnight. Wednesday on the day shift there are 64 wildland firefighters, 177 structural firefighters and heavy equipment being supported by 17 helicopters. The air support is being shared across all three fires in the region.
BC Hydro is also on the ground reconnecting power to critical infrastructure as well as “providing safety to the responders along areas where hydro lines have been impacted.”
Castanet will provide updates on the lifting of evacuation orders as it becomes available.
UPDATE 10 a.m.
Central Okanagan Emergency Operations is providing an update on the wildfire situation at 10 a.m.
ORIGINAL 4 a.m.
For the first night in days, the McDougall Creek wildfire was visible overnight from the valley below.
The smoke cleared Tuesday, revealing the devastation left behind by the still out-of-control wildfire.
Central Okanagan Emergency Operations did not rescind any evacuation orders or alerts on Tuesday night, like they did the night prior. Officials will provide an update at 10 a.m. that Castanet will carry live.
On Tuesday night a steady stream of Shannon Lake residents gathered in Shannon Ridge Park to view a constellation of fire scattered across the slopes of Carrot Mountain, above the neighbourhood.
With the smoke cleared, for now, residents are being advised that they will continue to see smoke coming from the fire for the coming days. The fire is expected to burn until a “season ending event,” according to the BC Wildfire Service.
Elsewhere in the Central Okanagan, crews continue to build guard around fires in Lake Country and Kelowna. A status update on those fires and evacuation orders will also be provided at 10 a.m.
Environment Canada is calling for a mix of sun and cloud Wednesday with a 60 percent chance of showers in the afternoon with risk of a thunderstorm. Wind becoming south 20 km/h could gust to 50 near noon.