‘The threat definitely exists’: Concerns around McDougall Creek wildfire persist



The threat posed by the McDougall Creek wildfire in West Kelowna is far from over, and it’s the Glenrosa neighbourhood that officials are watching most closely.

The fire that started Aug. 15  and quickly spread across the Central Okanagan is estimated to be 13,712 hectares as of Thursday morning, roughly 1,000 hectares more than it was mapped at a day earlier, the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre said.

That growth is due to a planned ignition operation and growth in the Powers Creek Drainage area, an area that’s currently the focus of concern.

“In the Glenrosa neighbourhood, where evacuation alerts have just been put on, the fire is very real and the threat definitely exists,” West Kelowna fire chief Jason Brolund said.

Click to play video: 'Evacuation orders remain in hard hit areas of McDougall Creek wildfire'

Evacuation orders remain in hard hit areas of McDougall Creek wildfire

“We’re watching the weather very closely, we’re planning for the worst and hoping for the best.”

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Wednesday, structure protection personnel completed a structural defense plan in Glenrosa and three heavy equipment task force teams continue to work in the area.

Areas where the fire already tore through are also still going to see a lot of fire activity but Brolund is confident about the stage of control in those areas.

“Some of the areas where people have been returned home, people will notice smouldering stumps and things way in the hills,” Brolund said.

“They’re spots we’re aware of and working hard to deal with. But some of these areas are impossible to access, so just because there’s a stump smoldering up the hill, doesn’t equate in a risk of this thing taking off again.”

As such, in the past 72 hours, crews have also focused on extinguishing hot spots adjacent to properties along Westside Road. Wilson’s Landing Fire Department has a bush truck out in the area patrolling neighbourhoods to monitor and extinguish hot spots.

Click to play video: 'Residents show how close flames came to their homes'

Residents show how close flames came to their homes

Another one of the challenges crews are addressing are power outages within affected areas. The McDougall Creek wildfire caused significant damage to the electrical infrastructure in the area with approximately 27 kilometres of power lines, 359 poles and 66 pieces of other equipment needing to be replaced. Repair work by BC Hydro is well underway and crews are hard at work to restore power.

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As of 7 a.m., it is estimated that 487 properties are under Evacuation Order, while 20,029 properties are under Evacuation Alert. Of the properties on Evacuation Order, 307 are within RDCO Electoral Area West, 142 are within the City of West Kelowna and 38 are within Westbank First Nation.

In the last 24 hours, the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) downgraded the Evacuation Order for four Bear Creek Road properties in West Kelowna Estates of West Kelowna and rescinded the Evacuation Alerts for Boucherie Industrial Area and WFN IR9 and IR10.


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