Structural losses from wildfires in West Kelowna area estimated at fewer than 90

Structural losses from wildfires in West Kelowna area estimated at fewer than 90
Thick smoke from wildfires burning in the area hangs in the air as motorists travel on the Trans-Canada Highway east of Kamloops, B.C., on Sunday, August 20, 2023.

The total number of structural losses from wildfires burning near West Kelowna, B.C., and the neighbouring Westbank First Nation is estimated to be fewer than 90, a regional fire chief said Tuesday.

West Kelowna Fire Chief Jason Brolund told a media briefing that figure includes fewer than 70 structures in West Kelowna and less than 20 on Westbank First Nation lands. He said further details should be released later on Tuesday.

Brolund said Canada Task Force 1 has completed a specialized search of wildfire-stricken areas and found no signs that anyone died in the blaze. He added he’s not aware of any outstanding missing persons, a development he described as “very encouraging news.”

He says the mountains have been shrouded with smoke since fire advanced last week, and the landscape is going to look different when the skies clear.

“It might be pretty dramatic to start to see what we’ve lost out there,” he said.

Brolund said crews tackled two dozen spot fires overnight, but he feels like they’re starting to turn the corner in fighting the blaze.

Premier David Eby was scheduled to visit the fire-ravaged southern Interior on Tuesday, along with Emergency Management Minister Bowinn Ma and Forests Minister Bruce Ralston, to get a first-hand look at the devastation caused by the raging wildfires.

Speaking at a news conference Monday, Eby said the goal of the visit was to reassure people the B.C. government will be there to help them rebuild once the crisis has passed, but to also get information from the front line about what communities need.

There are more than 27,000 people under evacuation orders across the province and more than 35,000 on evacuation alert due to several blazes, including the 110-square-kilometre McDougall Creek wildfire affecting West Kelowna, Kelowna and Lake Country.

The BC Wildfire Service said 100 firefighters from Mexico are expected to arrive in the province today, and another 200 from South Africa by the end of the week.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 22, 2023. 

The Canadian PressThe Canadian Press

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