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West Kelowna Fire Zone Residents Briefly Allowed Home Access, but Restrictions Remain Extended

Residents of wildfire-ravaged Wilson’s Landing in West Kelowna, B.C., were granted a four-hour window Friday to access their homes to retrieve important items as an area-wide restriction order was extended to Sept. 15.

The Central Okanagan Regional District says in a statement residents were temporarily permitted entry to the evacuation zone, but no further access is expected this weekend.

Evacuation alerts were lifted near Lytton and Lillooet in the Fraser Canyon, as areas that had been threatened by the Kookipi Creek and Stein Mountain wildfires were given the all-clear.

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However the province remains under a state of emergency, with the BC Wildfire Service reporting 413 active wildfires across the province, 182 burning out of control and seven new fires being reported in the past 24 hours.

The McDougall Creek wildfire that destroyed scores of homes when it swept down on West Kelowna three weeks ago continues to be battled by almost 300 firefighters and support staff.

The regional district says about 405 West Kelowna area properties remain on evacuation order and 10,749 are on evacuation alert, meaning residents must be prepared to leave on a moment’s notice.

It said Friday that fire crews battling the McDougall Creek blaze are mopping up hot spots, performing aerial water bucketing and performing controlled burns.

“We recognize that some residents have been out of their homes for several weeks now and the ongoing displacement is incredibly challenging, but these areas are not yet safe for the public to return,” said Sally Ginter, Central Okanagan Regional District emergency operation centre director.

“Crews are working around the clock to restore critical infrastructure to ensure residents are able to return safely.”

The regional district warned residents earlier this week they could face fines of up to $1,150 for attempting to dodge police blockades and access properties in restriction zones by boat or through forest access roads.

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