The Emergency Operations Centre Has Released these documents to residents returning to Evacuation Order areas.  August 27, 2003



Re-entry Advice for Evacuees   

List of Services that May be of Help During the Crisis  

Hazards in Areas Affected by Fire 

Dealing With the Stress of the Kelowna Fire: A Message for the Home Owners  

Okanagan Park Wildfire Hazards



Re-Entry Advice for Evacuees - Kelowna


A precautionary Boil Water Advisory has been put in place for residents in these areas until all tests can verify that the water system was not compromised in any way. Water should be boiled for three minutes. Media notification will be provided as soon as the Boil Water Advisory can be removed.


1.         Use caution and exercise good judgement when re-entering a burned fire area.  Hazards may still exist, including hot spots that can flare up without warning.


2.         Aquila is working to restore power and Terasen is working to restore natural gas.  Residents will be notified when service is to be restored to your area.  This will take place on a phased basis and may take some days to complete.


3.         Be careful around burned trees and power poles.  They may have lost stability due to fire damage.


4.         Watch for ash pits and mark them for safety.  Ash pits are holes full of hot ashes, created by burned trees and stumps.  You can be seriously burned by falling into ash pits or landing in them with your hands or feet.  Warn your family and neighbours to keep clear of the pits.


5.         Inspect the roof and check for smoke and sparks throughout the home, including the attic.  The winds of wildfires can blow burning embers anywhere.


6.         Take precautions while cleaning your property.  You may be exposed to potential health risks from hazardous materials. Debris should be wetted down to minimize health impacts from breathing dust particles.


7.         Wear rubber gloves when working with plumbing fixtures, and sewer piping.  They can contain high levels of bacteria.  If you suspect a problem with your septic field, contact the Interior Health Authority.


8.         If you have a propane tank system, and smell propane upon entering your home, contact your propane supplier, turn off the valve and leave your residence until the supplier inspects your system.  Ventilate your home.


9.         If you have a heating oil tank system, contact a heating oil supplier for an inspection of your system before using.  The tank may have shifted or fallen from the stand and fuel lines may have kinked or weakened.  Heat from the fire may have caused the tank to warp or bulge.  Non-vented tanks are more likely to bulge or show signs of stress.  The fire may have loosened or damaged fittings and filters.


10.        Visually check the stability of the trees.  Any tree that has been weakened by fire may be a hazard.  Winds are normally responsible for toppling weakened trees.  The wind patterns in your area may have changed as a result of the loss of adjacent tree cover.


·               Look for burns on the tree trunk.  If the bark on the trunk has been burned off or scorched by very high temperatures completely around the circumference, the tree will not survive.  Where fire has burnt deep into the trunk, the tree should be considered unstable.

·               Look for burnt roots by probing the ground with a rod around the base of the tree and several feet away from the base.  Roots are generally six to eight inches below the surface.  If the roots have been burned, you should consider this tree very unstable, and it may be toppled by wind.

·               A scorched tree is one that has lost part or all of its leaves or needles. Healthy deciduous trees are resilient and may produce new branches and leaves as well as sprouts at the base of the tree.  Evergreen trees may survive when partially scorched.  An evergreen tree that has been damaged by fire is subject to bark beetle attack.  Please seek professional assistance from the BC Forest Service concerning measures for protecting evergreens from bark beetle attack.


List of Services that May be of Help During the Crisis


Web Site Social Services Directory:

Web Site: Emergency services to homeless directory; see City web page:  select “Community Info”, then “Links” and choose “Basic Needs Resource Listing” under “Community”


Out of Kelowna Community Resources:

§         Volunteer Centre – coordinates needs for volunteers with qualified  and volunteer services 763-8058 [email protected]

§         Community Access Program – Computer access sites for low income people who don’t have it.  763-8008


§         Crisis Line 763-9191  24 hour help line

§         Youth 4 Youth Crisis Line 862-TEEN (862-8336)

§         General Information and Referral service 763-8008  Fax 763-7608  [email protected] or [email protected]  Location: 120-1735 Dolphin or 255 Lawrence Ave.


Neighbourlink – Church-organized volunteers to help neighbours  861-5465  768-8667

                        Fax 861-5608  [email protected]


St Vincent de Paul Society: - emergency food and help with social & economic problems including disaster crisis:  Rutland 765-0800  Downtown/Glenmore: 762-2577  Kelowna S. & Westside 861-7801


Salvation Army 860-2329  [email protected]


SHARE clothing & furniture, other items for low income people  763-8117


Kelowna Family Centre – wide variety of  counselling services  860-3181  [email protected]


Reachout Youth Counselling Centre:  1868 Ambrosi  763-7892 [email protected]


Kelowna Child Care Society  - coordination of child day care needs with services  762-3536  [email protected]


Central Okanagan Foundation:  coordinates grant money with local community needs, may be of organizational help.  861-5160  [email protected]


Alertline Emergency Response Society;

Locally monitored 24 hour emergency response  program for seniors or folks with physical disabilities  860-7271  fax 860-7264


Canadian Red Cross Loan Service – loans medical equipment for short term needs  763-1859


Okanagan French Cultural Centre – French translation and  services to francophones.  860-4074


Seniors Outreach Services – services to isolated seniors  861-6180  [email protected]


Okanagan Families Society  - parenting and family services to those experiencing challenges that may affect schooling and other issues.  763-0456 [email protected]


People in Motion – services to people with physical disabilities  861-3302



Hazards in Areas Affected by Fire

Text Box: Note:  The following list offers example hazards in areas affected by fire and evacuation, and does not intend to present an exhaustive list.



Evacuated, Undamaged Properties


Spoiled Food

·         In refrigerators

·         Damaged tin cans

·         Improperly disposed food may attract wild animals


Wildland Fire

·         Winds are unpredictable and existing fire threat may return

·         A new fire may start in vicinity, caused by human action or lightning

·         Evacuation would be more challenging where electrical power has not been restored


Electrical Hazards

·         Electrical shock or fire when power is restored




·         Potential congestion and impairment of fire suppression operations, emergency vehicles

·         Poor visibility due to smoke

·         Downed trees or utility poles and wires


Fire-Damaged Properties


Fire Hazards

·         Burning roots, hot ash pits

·         Hotspots may flare up

·         Existing fire threat may return or new fire threat may arise


Trip Hazards

·         Wires, fences, building materials

·         Debris


Falling Hazards

·         Open wells or septic tanks or weakened coverings

·         Ground holes caused by burning root systems


·         Nails and other building materials

·         Metal edges

·         Sharp branches


Dangerous Trees

·         Falling branches

·         Weakened trunks lead to falling trees

·         Damaged roots and falling trees

·         Ash Pits


Toxic Fumes in Debris

·         Burning or smouldering debris may include toxic gases


Hazardous Materials/Wastes

·         Propane Tanks

·         Contaminated soils

·         PCBs in transformers on poles and ground, in remnants of fluorescent lights



·         Contaminated water

·         Septic tank material

·         Animal mortalities can breed disease, attract predators


Inhalation Hazards

·         Fibreglass fibres

·         Smoke particulates

·         Contaminated dust



·         Burning of trees and roots on slopes above properties


Structure Collapse

·         Chimney remnants

·         Flooring

·         Septic tank or field


Pressurized Containers

·         Weakened containers may erupt if handled





Dealing With the Stress of the Kelowna Fire: A Message for the Home Owners


The Kelowna fire is an event the likes of which has never been seen in our community.  The severity, the duration, and the resources employed are all beyond what we have ever dealt with.  The people working on the disaster (firefighters, police, logistic support, and emergency service workers) are putting in long and hard hours, and are also concerned about the safety and homes of their friends and family.  Some of the workers have lost their own homes. Nonetheless, the community of Kelowna has been well served by the hard work and dedication of the hundreds of people doing their best under trying circumstances. We are, above all, thankful that there has been no loss of life.


As home owners you too are tired, likely frustrated and just want to get back to your homes and get on with your normal lives. Some, however, in spite of the firefighters’ best efforts have lost their homes and valuables. This is a tragedy which may prove challenging on multiple levels – marital, financial, emotional and physical. Help is available.


The Normal Stress Response


You may experience the following normal reactions given the losses you and your family are facing:


What Can You Do for Yourself and Your Children?



Depending on your child you may see clinginess, hitting out, tearfulness and “slipping back” to earlier ways of behaving. This is normal. Your kids need to know things are as normal as they can be, and that they, their parents, grandparents and pets are safe. Keep media exposure to a minimum.


For more info contact: RCMP Victims’ Services (470-6242), the Elizabeth Fry Society (763-4613), or Kelowna-area psychologists and counsellors (see the Yellow Pages or call 762-2525 for referral).





Although the fire has passed through various areas and they may appear safe, serious hazards still remain.  The hazards listed below may not represent all the hazards you may come across.  Please be Cautious!


Widow Makers- are burnt trees with little or no limbs that have limited structural support and may fall silently at any time. 


Easy Bake Ovens- burning root structures that leave the surrounding ground unstable and extremely hot.  The roots can burn for days and are extremely dangerous.  These areas may appear as “dinosaur footprints” and must be avoided at all times.


Falling Limbs- may occur in any area where trees have been exposed to the fire!


Electrical Hazards – Please be aware of fallen power lines (and other utility lines) and power poles affected by the fire.  Many poles may be unstable. Treat all fallen lines with extreme caution.  If you come across a utility line that may be active, contact the necessary utility company.


Structural Hazards- Many of the homes affected by the fire have structural hazards, fall hazards, and potentially dangerous gas pockets.  Avoid private properties at all times!

Standing chimneys and walls may appear to be sound.  Be aware the concrete in these structures may be fragile due to excessive heat and may collapse at any time.


General Site Safety- Emergency response personnel will be active in many of the areas you are working.  Please DO NOT block any access to streets!


Wild Animals- The fire has affected many wild animals in the area.  If you spot a bear, cougar, or other animal in distress, please keep your distance and contact the conservation office.