Photo: Nancy Fair
A helicopter flies above Lake Country Friday.
UPDATE 9 p.m.
Lake Country residents are reminded they must not return home until cleared to do so by emergency officials.
“Our teams are working hard extinguish all remaining hotspots and manage danger trees near homes and we’re moving folks back to their properties as fast as safety possible,” said Lake Country Fire Chief Darren Lee.
“We know returning you to your homes and back to work is important to you. We’re almost there. We need to finish strong and safely.”
Central Okanagan Emergency Operations says it’s working to get Lake Country residents home as soon as possible.
The public is asked to respect signage, barricades and locked gates, and to stay out of areas affected by wildfire for their own safety.
“Crews will be doing hazard assessments and working in those areas to get them safe for eventually re-entry in the weeks ahead,” said the centre in a statement.
“As Evacuation Orders are downgraded and Evacuation Orders are removed, residents are reminded that they may also encounter various hazards on their private properties from the wildfire.”
UDPATE 6:50 p.m.
The mayor of Lake Country says fire crews are working around the clock to get the remaining 700 properties on evacuation alert home by Saturday night.
“There are so many dynamic factors to the phased approach, of allowing community members to go home. Factors include active fires; danger tree removal and area clean up. I want everyone to go home – but it can only be when it’s safe to do so,” he said in a statement Thursday.
“Please know – all District of Lake Country staff are working hard to get everyone home as soon as possible. Please be kind, please be patient.”
UPDATE 5:10 p.m.
Central Okanagan Emergency Operations has downgraded 300 properties in the District of Lake Country from evacuation order to alert.
These include properties to the north end and east sides of the fire area.
An interactive map of evacuation zones in the Central Okanagan is here.
Residents of properties on evacuation alert must be prepared to leave their properties at a moment’s notice and be away from home for an extended period.
More than 700 properties remain on evacuation order in Lake Country and no additional orders are expected to be lifted Thursday, said officials. Here is a list of addresses that remain on evacuation order.
ORIGINAL: 12:40 p.m.
While all evacuation orders within the City of Kelowna are expected to be lifted by the end of the day, it’s not clear what the future holds for evacuees in Lake Country.
During a press conference Thursday morning, BC Wildfire Service incident commander Brad Litke announced both wildfires burning in Kelowna and Lake Country have now been classified as “held,” meaning they’re not expected to grow beyond predetermined boundaries.
As a result, Kelowna fire chief Travis Whiting said he’s hopeful all evacuation orders in Kelowna will be lifted by the end of the day.
But Lake Country fire chief Darren Lee did not attend Thursday’s press conference, and little was said about the timeline of lifting evacuation orders in the district now that the fire has been held.
Several Lake Country residents have reached out to Castanet, expressing concerns about where things stand in the district.
“It is very frustrating for Lake Country evacuees,” one Castanet reader said in an email. “For the second briefing in a row, the Lake Country Fire Chief nor any representative from the District of Lake Country was present to provide an update.”
Following Thursday’s press conference, Lake Country mayor Blair Ireland told Castanet they’re “working extremely hard to get those orders lifted.”
“I just spoke to the fire chief, and he’s hoping to get most people back as quickly as possible,” Ireland said. “We’re not going to get everybody back, there’s still active fire in a couple of places.
“The team at the district and the fire chief are working really hard to get people back into their homes .. we don’t want anybody to be out of their homes for any longer than they have to be.”
Just after noon on Thursday, a member of the Central Okanagan Regional District’s Emergency Operations Centre said they have no updates to provide with regards to lifting any evacuation orders in Lake Country. She added they likely wouldn’t have any further information about a possible timeline for “at least a few hours.”
Three homes are believed to have been burned by the wildfire in Lake Country, which was sparked last Friday morning.