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B.C. officials urge patience as some wildfire evacuees start returning home

Officials throughout the B.C. Interior are pleading for patience from thousands of people displaced by wildfires, as some evacuation orders were reduced to evacuation alerts.

Some evacuation orders lifted in West Kelowna and Lake Country, no timeline on Shuswap residents returning

People take pictures and look up at a yellow helicopter in the sky, which is covered by haze and wildfire smoke.

If the power or data on your device is low, you can get wildfire updates on CBC Lite, our low-bandwidth, text-only website.

The latest on the wildfires:

Officials throughout the B.C. Interior are pleading for patience from thousands of people displaced by wildfires, as some evacuees begin to head home.

The latest count shows 25,000 people have been told to leave their homes due to blazes across B.C.

On Wednesday night, 309 properties were taken off evacuation order in the West Kelowna area, along with a number of other areas in the District of Lake Country earlier in the evening as firefighters made good progress tackling fires like the McDougall Creek blaze.

WATCH | A West Kelowna woman found out her home was safe through a CBC camera:

Emergency management minister says evacuation orders must be respected

14 hours ago

Duration 1:29

Bowinn Ma told the public Wednesday that people who choose to defy evacuation orders in wildfire zones are making a dangerous situation even more dangerous.

However, officials also confirmed that 181 properties were damaged or razed by blazes in the Kelowna area. Assessments to determine the full scale of the destruction are set to continue Thursday.

West Kelowna Fire Chief Jason Brolund says rescinding evacuation orders is not a simple process, and officials have to consider numerous factors, including whether roads can handle an influx of returning cars.

"We want to avoid having to evacuate you a second time if this incident escalates," he said at a Wednesday news conference. "It's been proven that people are likely not to evacuate, in some cases, if they have to evacuate again."

The Regional District of Central Okanagan (RDCO) set up a portal Wednesday for evacuees to check the status of their home.

It has requested members of the general public not to use the portal.

"Some of the most challenging days are ahead. People and communities will learn of monumental loss. This will be a process of grief collectively," said Loyal Wooldridge, the RDCO chairperson, in a statement.

"As we move into recovery, the needs of each impacted community will be different."

No timeline for Shuswap evacuees

Firefighters working to tackle the Bush Creek East wildfire in the Shuswap region also benefited from good weather on Wednesday, with helicopters and aerial resources set to continue working on the blaze Thursday.

Though more than 11,000 people remain on evacuation order in the area — some of whom are refusing to leave their communities — officials aren't yet giving a timeline for when those orders could be lifted.

"We understand the need for people to want to get back, to want to try to regain some sense of normalcy," said Tracy Hughes, public information officer for the Shuswap Emergency Program. "However, we just can't afford to put people back in situations that aren't completely vetted and safe."

WATCH | Minister implores residents to not stay behind:

West Kelowna woman sees home is safe from wildfires through the lens of a CBC News video camera

10 hours ago

Duration 1:30

A CBC News crew gave West Kelowna's Susan Priest a peek through the telephoto lens of a news camera, allowing her to see her home safe and sound for the first time after a wildfire devastated the area. A previous version of this video displayed an image of a house that was not owned by Susan Priest.

While rain helped firefighters in the Okanagan and Shuswap Wednesday, it did not reach the Fraser Canyon — where multiple wildfires remain burning around the community of Lytton.

Firefighters were set to conduct a planned ignition near the Kookipi Creek blaze south of the community on Wednesday, to remove unburnt fuel between the fire and nearby communities.

However, the B.C. Wildfire Service (BCWS) says unfavourable winds stalled the operation, with conditions set to be re-evaluated Thursday.


WATCH | Wildfires just latest extreme weather event to hit B.C.'s winemakers:

B.C. winery owners talk about how climate change is affecting their operations

10 hours ago

Duration 1:50

Wildfires are just the latest extreme weather event to hit winemakers in the province. Amid a downturn in tourism, they're asking the public to support them in the fall after the smoke dissipates.

Anyone placed under an evacuation order should leave the area immediately.

Evacuation centres have been set up throughout the province to assist anyone evacuating from a community under threat from a wildfire.

To find the centre closest to you, visit the EmergencyInfoBC website.

Evacuees are encouraged to register with Emergency Support Services online, whether or not they access services at an evacuation centre.

    Do you have a story to share?

    If you've been affected by the B.C. wildfires and want to share your story, email cbcnewsvancouver@cbc.ca.

    With files from Randi-Marie Adams

    Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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