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UPDATE: Wilson’s Landing homeowners displaced by wildfire to have temporary site access Sept. 8

‘Crossover conditions’ could increase fire activity starting Thursday into the weekend
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BC Wildfire Service executed and completed a successful 350-hectare planned ignition on Wednesday, Sept. 6. (Karen Hill/Black Press Media)

UPDATE 4:30 p.m.

Wildfire impacted residents in the Wilson’s Landing and Cinnabar Creek areas will have temporary access Friday, Sept. 8.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. property owners will be able to enter the area from the north end of Westside Road.

Residents will need to provide photo identification to confirm they live in the area, are asked to travel directly to their property, and not take any pictures of neighbouring homes. It is recommend only residents 19 years of age or older attend.

With hazards still in the area, people are encouraged to wear pants and long sleeves, close-toed shoes, and a face mask.

Property owners are permitted to gather documents and medication, change irrigation settings, gather clothes, tools, equipment or vehicles, and check on their home and its contents. Residents should not bring in friends or other family, shower or use the bathroom, clean out the fridge and freezer, walk around the neighbourhood, or sift through the debris.

Due to safety concerns, the temporary access for Bear Creek Road and Rose Valley North that was scheduled for Sept. 9 has been postponed.

UPDATE 12:05 p.m.

As wildfires crews continue to battle the McDougall Creek wildfire, BC Hydro crews have been hard at work in the area to replace power poles and restore power in the area.

So far, BC Hydro has replaced more than 300 of the 426 power poles that were destroyed because of the wildfire.

Starting Friday morning (Sept. 8), BC Hydro crews are beginning a staged approach to re-energize customers at the southern end of Westside Road, including Traders Cove. When completed, almost 80 per cent (around 170 customers) will have their power restored.

BC Hydro has 125 employees on scene rebuilding their infrastructure.

“The safety of the public, crews and first responders has been and will continue to be BC Hydro’s top priority as it works to repair the extensive damage caused by the wildfire,” said BC Hydro in their Thursday update. “BC Hydro appreciates customers’ patience and is committed to keeping its customers up-to-date on restoration efforts.”

The wildfire destroyed 27 kilometres of power lines, 426 poles and 66 pieces of other equipment that is being replaced.

Original

Wednesday’s 350-hectare planned ignition at the McDougall Creek wildfire was a great success, according to BC Wildfire Service.

The controlled burn disregarded 350 hectares of unburnt fuel at the southwest flank of the wildfire, along the north and west sides of Carrot Mountain, adjacent to the Powers Creek Drainage. This operation by fire crews brought the fire down to constructed containment line where crews can safely and effectively extinguish the fire’s edge over the next few days.

Mapping still shows the McDougall Creek wildfire is 13,712 hectares in size, but this will raise because of the planned ignitions executed over the last two days. The map was last updated on Aug. 29.

“Over the past 10 days a tremendous amount of work has been completed to successfully prevent the McDougall Creek wildfire from entering the Powers Creek drainage,” said BC Wildfire Service in their Thursday (Sept. 7) morning update. “Both of these planned ignition operations have been critical in reducing the threat of the McDougall Creek wildfire to adjacent communities.”

This also provided an anchor for fire crews to safely work and develop systems for water suppression operations.

Four heavy equipment task force teams (approximately 20 pieces of heavy equipment) are continuing to build a machine guard from the Glenrosa community, tying into the Jack Creek Forest Service Road and down to Lambly Lake. This is expected to be completed by the end of the day on Thursday, Sept. 7.

Crews completed the planned ignitions in time before a streak of upcoming warmer weather that could cause increased fire activity. BC Wildfire Service is expected ‘crossover conditions’ on Thursday and through the weekend. Crossover conditions is when the relative humidity is less than or equal to the temperature, which is an indicator of extreme burning conditions. The ridge of high pressure is forecasted to build until Sunday, Sept. 10 and head east.

On Thursday, residents from Traders Cove/Pine Point will have their chance to have temporary access to their homes and properties. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (but subject to change due to wildfire conditions and RCMP priorities), people who live at the following residences will have a chance to visit their properties and retrieve important items:

  • All of Traders Cove Road, Edith Court, Heldon Court, and Siemens Road;
  • Westside Road N addresses from 109-673;
  • Pine Point (695 Westside Road N).

Residents are to check in and leave through an RCMP checkpoint on Westside Road and Lindley Road and must have the following:

  • Show their government-issued photo identification to confirm they live in the area, or present a property tax notice or utility documentation if the property is a recreation or secondary property;
  • Travel directly to and from their home, as directed by RCMP and obey traffic control personnel working on the road;
  • Refrain from taking pictures of other homes.

Emergency Operations and the RCMP also have guidelines in place for people taking advantage of the temporary access:

Permitted:

  • Drive directly to your property and directly back out through the same checkpoint;
  • Collect documents, medication or other personal items;
  • Pick up gear, clothes, tools, equipment or a vehicle;
  • Check on house and contents.

Not Permitted:

  • Only property owners are permitted;
  • Visit a house that has been lost in the wildfire if a fire inspection has not been conducted;
  • Use shower, bathroom or laundry facilities (water and power may not be available);
  • Clean out fridge or freezer;
  • Sight-see in the neighbourhood or stop to take pictures for friends, family and neighbours;
  • Walk around the neighbourhood or enter a neighbour’s property.

RCMP will be patrolling the area as well to make sure guidelines are being followed. Visits are for families only and recommended for people 19 and older. Additionally, residents are being asked to clear the property clothing for the occasion – long-sleeved shirts, pants, close-toed shoes and face masks before entering because of smoke and ash in the area. The risk of wildfire is also present in the area.

BCWS is reminding the public that nobody is allowed in the area restriction/evacuation order zone. Members of the public continue to be found along Jack Pine Forest Service Road as they attempt to access properties by boat along Okanagan Lake. For the foreseeable future, Kelowna RCMP and conservation officers will remain on the scene to continue to enforce the area restriction order. Anyone found in the area is subject to a $1,150 fine.

The order is in place for many reasons including:

•Heavy equipment and chainsaw operators: Heavy equipment and chainsaw operators can’t hear or see you when operating equipment;

•Ash pits: Deep, intensely burning stumps and tree roots may result in hot ashpits underground that can lead to severe burns if you step or fall into one;

•Falling trees: Drought and burnt-out tree roots cause unstable trees that may fall at any time, especially if it’s windy.

All evacuation orders and alerts remain the same at this time. Residents can look at the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations map.

Transport Canada and the BC Wildfire Service prohibit the use of drones of any size near a wildfire. The operation of any aircraft not associated with fire suppression activities within a radius of five nautical miles around a fire, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones), is illegal. Anyone found interfering with wildfire control efforts may face penalties of up to $100,000 and or up to one year in jail.

READ MORE: Kelowna hospital receives largest single donation from local philanthropist

READ MORE: Ash-caked porcelain house all that West Kelowna wildfire left of former MP’s home


@cunninghamjordy
jordy.cunningham@kelownacapnews.com

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