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B.C. wildfire fight continues, with Shuswap and Okanagan regions among hardest-hit

Homes have been levelled by wildfires burning in B.C.'s Shuswap and Okanagan regions.

Properties levelled by wildfires burning in B.C.'s Shuswap and Okanagan regions

A sign showing an extreme wildfire warning stand amidst rubble.

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British Columbia's fight against wildfires continued Saturday, with devastating losses as flames continued to tear through homes and communities.

Since Thursday, officials have confirmed the loss of multiple homes and structures in West Kelowna and parts of the Shuswap, but the full extent of the damage has not been tallied as flames continue to burn through the province's tinder-dry conditions, fuelled by wind, drought and hot weather.

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The province is under a state of emergency, and travel to B.C.'s southern Interior has been restricted, preventing tourists from using hotels, motels, RV parks and other temporary accommodations in Kelowna and West Kelowna, Kamloops, Oliver, Osoyoos, Penticton and Vernon, so they can be utilized for evacuees.

Provincial officials say 30,000 people have been told to leave their homes, and a further 36,000 have been told to get ready to leave at a moment's notice.

Highway 1, a major route through the province, is also closed in at least two places due to wildfires.

Late Saturday, federal Minister of Emergency Preparedness Harjit Sajjan said in an online post that he had approved a request from the government of B.C. for additional support in managing the situation.

He indicated military assets and other resources would be deployed to assist with evacuations and other logistical tasks.

Destruction in the Shuswap

On Saturday, officials with the B.C. Wildfire Service (BCWS) confirmed that two fast-moving wildfires burned down blocks of homes, stores and buildings in multiple communities in the Shuswap region.

BCWS spokesperson Forrest Tower said in an interview Saturday that northerly winds blew the Lower East Adams Lake wildfire into Scotch Creek and as far east as Celista on the north shore of Shuswap Lake, a popular tourist destination about 150 kilometres north of Kelowna.

WATCH | Wildfire burns near highway as resident evacuates near Scotch Creek:

Scenes of destruction as Shuswap region burns in B.C.

10 hours ago

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Hundreds of people have fled their homes, some forever, as flames closed in on the North Shuswap region of B.C.'s Interior, leaving a trail of devastation.

The fire grew about 20 kilometres in 12 hours, which is among the fastest growth B.C. has seen for a wildfire, Tower said.

BCWS could not confirm the number of homes or buildings that burned down overnight and said it was still assessing the damage in Celista.

However, Tower said the damage "is quite significant."

"Celista actually was hit worse than Scotch Creek and the fire essentially ran unsuppressed and unmitigated right through that community," he told CBC News.

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Where evacuees in the Shuswap should go

An evacuee reception centre has been set up at the Salmon Arm Senior Citizen Centre at 170 5th Ave. SE. Evacuees can also call 250-833-3350 for more information.

The reception centre for the Thompson Nicola Regional District is at the McArthur Island Sport and Event Centre, 1655 Island Pkwy. in Kamloops, which is accessible via Chase Creek Road.

All evacuees are also asked to register with the provincial portal.

Evacuees replace tourists in hotels

Ingrid Jarrett, a longtime Kelowna resident and the CEO of the B.C. Hotel Association (BCHA), said the organization has been working with the province to provide emergency shelter for evacuees and emergency responders. The province, she said, pays hotels a government rate for their rooms.

WATCH | Witness recounts driving through raging B.C. wildfire:

'I was terrified': Witness recounts driving through raging B.C. wildfire

11 hours ago

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Nikki Goyer recounts feeling 'terrified' after she and her fiance drove through a raging wildfire on Friday near Sorrento, B.C., to rescue Goyer's sister-in-law who needed evacuating from a town nearby.

But to ensure hotels have enough space for those who need it, operators in areas affected by wildfires are helping guests either get home or rebook their vacations to another part of the province.

  • Cross Country Checkup wants to know, how are the wildfires affecting you? What help do you need? Fill out the details on this form and send us your stories.

"We have travellers from all over the world that are in the Okanagan," she said.

"So many people actually are here and we need to help them find a way home."

In Kelowna that has proved tricky as the region's only international airport closed to commercial travel on Friday. To help address the issue, Air Canada has scheduled extra flights out of the nearby Penticton Regional Airport, Jarrett said.


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 Akshay Kulkarni, Tessa Vikander, Michelle Gomez and Andrew Kurjata

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Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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