Evacuation order keeps hundreds out of their homes east of Kelowna

KELOWNA (NEWS 1130) – Crews have made little progress on the Philpott Road fire, and more than 1,000 people living just east of Kelowna remain on evacuation order.

The Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre says the blaze that’s closed Highway 33 grew slightly yesterday to an estimated 465 hectares in size.

Flames were sparked on Thursday, and people around Kelowna describe seeing what looked like a volcano erupt, with a cloud of thick smoke towering high over the area.

Public Information Officer Summer Effray with the operations centre says about 1,100 people remain out of their homes.

“I believe it all happened at the same time but crews are out assessing the evacuation order right now and then it will potentially be adjusted when it’s safe to do so.”

There are still no reports of structural damage due to the fire.

More than 570 people of the residents who were forced to leave their homes have registered at the Willow Park Church evacuee reception centre in Kelowna.

The weather will continue to play a big role in fire fighting efforts.

It’s expected to get even hotter and drier, but Effray says crews are doing everything they can to keep damage to a minimum.

“The fire crews were working to snuff out fires and hot spots, they monitored the blaze and protected properties from the wildfires.”

The fire is still considered to be ‘out of control’, and Effray says crews are facing a number of challenges.

“Accessibility, density and of course weather conditions moving forward.”

Firefighters are using nearby lakes as water sources, and Effray says the closure of Highway 33 has helped keep people out of the way.

The Philpott Road – Highway 33 fire originated within the Joe Rich area and has spread to crown land. The fire is considered “out of control”, and its cause is under investigation.

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