Firefighters battling the Joe Rich fire near Kelowna. Image: Facebook/District of Lake Country

Preparing for another night on the fire line

Kelowna - Firefighters from seven departments will spend another night protecting homes in Joe Rich

Firefighters are preparing for another evening of watching buildings in the Joe Rich fire zone as crews will continue their efforts against the blaze, still burning at 460 hectares.

This evening and overnight, about 20 structural fire crews from seven Central and North Okanagan fire departments will be monitoring the wildfire. They’ll have nine pieces of equipment to protect homes and buildings in the ongoing of which they have managed 20 per cent containment.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure says Highway 33 remains open to single-lane, alternating traffic guided through the fire zone with pilot vehicles. Motorists should be prepared for delays of between two to three hours.

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It’s not anticipated there will be any change to the Evacuation Order tonight. Approximately 380 residents from 160 properties remain out of their homes.

About 120 residents from 52 properties were allowed to return home earlier today. With the partial rescind of the Evacuation Order late this morning and yesterday, approximately 720 residents are on Evacuation Alert and should be prepared to leave their homes again on short notice, if fire conditions change.

Residents allowed back to their properties should be aware that active fire suppression work continues throughout the area of the fire. Residents are also reminded that they may encounter various hazards on private properties as a result of the forest fire. BC Emergency Preparedness has additional information for returning home after a wildfire.

Household pets, like cats and dogs are only allowed to return with residents. Other animals are not allowed back in at this time, due to the uncertainty about fire behaviour and the potential for reinstating Evacuation Orders if necessary.

To view a detailed map showing properties that are on Order and Alert, please visit www.cordemergency.ca/map

The Emergency Support Services reception centre at Willow Park Church, 439 Highway 33 West in Kelowna is now closed for the day. It will open again tomorrow from 4 to 6 p.m.

There’s some new information for those FortisBC customers who have been out of their homes because of the wildfire. FortisBC says customers will get a bill credit for charges incurred during the period they were under evacuation order for the Philpott Road wildfire.

Customers of the RDCO Falcon Ridge water system that have been allowed to return home should be aware the system is under a Boil Water Notice. Water consumption on that system is restricted to indoor, household use only – no irrigation is permitted to in order to ensure adequate water supply to fight the fire.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure says Highway 33 remains open to single-lane, alternating traffic guided through the fire zone with pilot vehicles. Motorists should be prepared for delays of between two to three hours. Please be patient with the escort process and obey flaggers and speed limits through the area. Visit drivebc.ca for the latest updates.

The next scheduled update from the Emergency Operation Centre is anticipated after 10:00 am tomorrow.

For the latest information visit www.cordemergency.ca. Updates are also available via social media; follow us at facebook.com/CORDEmergency or twitter.com/CO_Emerg