Thursday, September 21, 2023
HomeWorld NewsCanada newsThousands in B.C. forced from their homes due to ongoing wildfires across...

Thousands in B.C. forced from their homes due to ongoing wildfires across province

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:

B.C.’s fight against wildfires continues Saturday, after blazes flared up on Friday night and destroyed properties in in the Central Okanagan region.

The province is under a state of emergency due to hundreds of wildfires, with the emergency management minister saying 15,000 people had been told to leave their homes, and a further 20,000 had been told to get ready to leave at a moment’s notice.

The McDougall Creek wildfire burning in West Kelowna grew more than a hundredfold — from 64 hectares to 6,800 hectares (68 square kilometres) — in just 24 hours. As of late Friday evening, it covered an area of 105 square kilometres, according to the B.C. Wildfire Service.

WATCH | West Kelowna fire chief says the ‘devastation was unreal’: 

Gusting winds are expected to exacerbate wildfire conditions across British Columbia, where officials say the number of people under evacuation order went from 4,500 to 15,000 in an hour — and 20,000 more people are under evacuation alert. ‘The devastation was just unreal,’ West Kelowna’s fire chief said.

More than 2,400 properties are under an evacuation order, and more than 4,800 properties are under an evacuation alert due to the blaze.

While properties were confirmed destroyed in the blaze, the exact number will not be known until officials can assess the situation, according to a Friday update.

Kelowna has a population of approximately 150,000 residents, while West Kelowna has about 36,000.

The airspace above the southern Interior city remains closed due to the blaze. The nearby University of B.C. Okanagan campus was also evacuated on Friday.

Fires burn in the distance as streetlights illuminate a stretch of road.
The McDougall Creek wildfire is seen from the Westside Road area of the city on Friday. The blaze has destroyed an unconfirmed number of properties. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

Mary Ann Murphy, a sociologist at UBC Okanagan, described the situation in the Kelowna region as “spooky.”

“I have a really good air purifier in my home, but my home reeks of smoke,” she told Lisa Christiansen, host of CBC’s North by Northwest, on Saturday morning.

Murphy said she could not believe the devastating blaze was affecting her community, so soon after a deadly wildfire in Hawaii and a series of fires that led to the evacuation of Yellowknife — and almost 20 years to the day since a devastating blaze ignited south of Kelowna and destroyed almost 240 homes.

“I never imagined, honestly didn’t imagine that this could happen again in Kelowna this week, on the 20th anniversary of the Okanagan Mountain Park fire,” she said. “It feels eerily similar. I have to say, I really was in a state of disbelief.”

WATCH | Residents film approaching flames from West Kelowna fire: 

thousands in b c forced from their homes due to ongoing wildfires across province 2

Smoke and flames loom over West Kelowna, B.C. as evacuations underway

1 day ago

Duration 0:58

More than 1,000 properties have been ordered evacuated as wildfires rapidly spread toward West Kelowna, B.C.

Under the province’s state of emergency, B.C. officials can issue emergency orders, including travel restrictions and the ability to free up accommodations for evacuees, emergency personnel and health-care workers.

Where Kelowna-area evacuees should go

The regional district is asking evacuees to contact friends and family as hotels, motels and other tourism operators in the area are at capacity.

For those in Kelowna, a reception centre has been set up at the Salvation Army at 1480 Sutherland Dr.

Evacuees from West Kelowna who live south of Traders Cove can go to the Information Centre at Royal LePage Place at 2760 Cameron Rd.

Two officers sit on police vehicles as a wildfire rages behind them.
RCMP officers are pictured at a road block following the evacuation order due to the McDougall Creek Wildfire in West Kelowna on Friday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

For those north of Traders Cove, a reception centre has been opened at Kal Tire Place at 3445 43rd Ave. in Vernon, around 60 kilometres north of West Kelowna.

All evacuees are asked to register through a provincial portal. A public information line is also available at 250-469-8490 or 1-877-569-8490.

Large fires burning near Lytton, Invermere

Further west, a fire in the Lytton area has forced the evacuations of numerous properties, along with the closure of a stretch of Highway 1.

The Kookipi Creek wildfire south of the town covers an area of 87.9 square kilometres as of Saturday morning, and has led to numerous evacuation orders and alerts from First Nations and regional districts. According to DriveBC, Highway 1 between Hope and Lytton is closed in both directions due to the blaze.

The Village of Lytton, which was decimated by a wildfire in 2021, is also under evacuation alert.

In southeast B.C., officials are urging calm as numerous fires burn around the community of Invermere, B.C., with evacuation alerts in place for the Panorama Mountain resort.

In the Shuswap region, the Lower East Adams Lake fire continues to burn, with evacuation orders remaining in place there. 

DriveBC said Highway 1 has been closed between Chase and Sorrento in both directions because of the fire. An update is expected at noon PT Saturday.


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

More Related Articles

Sign up to receive awesome content in your inbox, every day in the morning.

Select Your Interest:

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here
Captcha verification failed!
CAPTCHA user score failed. Please contact us!

5 Days Trending

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website.