Smith Creek wildfire completely contained; evacuation alert to be lifted

WEST KELOWNA — After a week of fighting, fire crews have now 100 per cent contained the Smith Creek wildfire burning in West Kelowna.

“All Evacuation Alerts and Evacuation Orders resulting from the Smith Creek Fire will be lifted as of 5 p.m. Thursday,” according to a Central Okanagan Emergency Operations news release.

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The fire, which has been deemed human caused, ignited last Thursday afternoon.

Within an hour and a half of starting, homes in the Smith Creek neighbourhood were evacuated. Roughly 2,500 people remained under an evacuation order for three days, with the majority of residents allowed back in their home Sunday. About 300 people remained under that order until Monday afternoon, when it too was rescinded for all but eight rural properties, seven of which were unoccupied.

The community stepped up to help those evacuees, including a seniors home opening its doors for shelter. According to the Regional District of Central Okanagan, about 2,900 people accessed Emergency Social Services during the evacuation.

It was a full scale fight that saw crews from the ministry of forests, Kelowna, Peachland, Grand Forks, Lake Country and others to action the blaze.

At one point, the fire was burning within a few hundred meters of homes, but crews were able to keep the blaze at bay and no structures were destroyed or even damaged.

The biggest enemy for fire crews during this battle was heavy wind, with fire officials labelling this a wind driven fire. Heavy rain in the past few days has helped fire crews contain the active blaze, which remains at 280 hectares.