Okanagan Mountain Fire Watch

A special high traffic / low bandwidth edition of Castanet.net

What to do:  Evacuation Alert   Evacuation Order   Going Home   General Public

What Not to Do   Living with Wildfire

Definitions: What is an Evacuation Alert?  Evacuation Order?

When a wildland fire threatens a community the Office of the Fire Commissioner, in consultation with the Ministry of Forests, implements four stages of alert:

  • Fire notice: people are pre-warned about wildfire activity that may lead to an alert being put in place.
  • Evacuation alert: people are warned of imminent threat to life and property, and are asked to be ready to leave on short notice. Be prepared for worsening conditions.
  • Evacuation order: people must leave the area immediately.
  • Evacuation rescinded: residents will be notified that they may return to their homes when the danger has passed.

Evacuation Orders are delivered door to door by RCMP and volunteers. If you hear of an Evacuation Order for your area, you should not wait to be contacted in this way. You should leave immediately.

An Evacuation Alert can be upgraded to an Evacuation Order at any time. There is no minimum time required between the two notices.  Evacuation Orders can be issued at any time. 


What to do if your area has been placed under evacuation alert :

An evacuation alert means residents should be prepared to leave their homes and properties on short notice

  • People under Evacuation Alert are advised to gather essential items such as medications, glasses, valuable papers and keepsakes such as photographs.

  • Preparations should be made to move any disabled persons and children.

  • Pets and livestock should be moved to a safe area. Anyone needing assistance with animals should call 1-250-809-7152.  As much advance notice as possible will be given should the need to evacuate occur, however limited notice may be necessary due to changing conditions.

  • Affected residents are asked to stay tuned to local media for further updates. 

See also this PEP document (PDF) on preparing for an evacuation.


What to do if your area has been placed under evacuation order :

  • Evacuation order residents should leave the area in an orderly manner immediately.

  • Evacuated  residents must register with the Emergency Reception Centre.  Please proceed to Parkinson Rec. Centre.  If someone out of town is looking for you, they can provide an update to them on your whereabouts. 

  • Affected residents are asked to stay tuned to local media for further updates. 


What do do if your evacuation order has been rescinded (Going home -  what to do after the fire.)

You may return to your home.  Hazards may be present in all areas, especially in burned structures and in treed areas.  Extreme caution should be exercised in all fire-affected areas.  Parents should take the time to explain the hazards to children and tell them to stay away from burned properties. Parent should supervise children carefully.  
Typical hazards that result from wildfire and structure fires include:

  • Danger trees (trees without branches that fall silently, other falling trees)

  • Dangerous structures (chimney remains and  other structural components)

  • Non-visible collapsed areas such as ash pits and compromised septic systems

  • Visible open holes and pits

  • Hot or burning materials (hot areas may continue for several weeks following a fire the magnitude of the Okanagan Mountain Park fire)

  • Downed electrical lines

  • Hazardous materials

  • Sharp objects

  • Wildlife (animals that have been pushed out of their normal habitat into the City)

The public is reminded that fire tape is in place in many locations in the impacted areas.  The fire tape is there as a visual indication of hazards but no security is in place to restrict access. Safety and security of private property remains the responsibility of property owners.

It is recommended that property owners only grant access to those persons with a need to be on the affected property such as utility crews, contractors and insurance representatives

The fire tape may be removed at the discretion of the property owner, however it is recommended that the tape remain in place as a visual reminder of the potential danger. It may be appropriate for property owners to consider other means of securing their properties.

Residents reentering evacuated areas should read this important document outlining safety precautions and hazards associated with areas affected by fire, services that might be of assistance and advice on how to handle the stress of the past week and a half.

Interior Health has released seven helpful health articles: (PDF)

  1. Returning to home
  2. Private water systems and wells
  3. Stress and Nutrition
  4. Living with Smoky Skies
  5. Smoke Exposure - FAQ
  6. Helping Kids Cope
  7. Okanagan  Mental Health Contact list

Terasen Gas has an emergency web page with important phone numbers and procedures.  12:58 pm 

Need Red Cross financial assistance? Call 763-1859 ext 202

Pushor Mitchell Lawyers have release a Fire Insurance Claims Guide.

The BCAA has release a couple of useful documents: An FAQ On Home Insurance and How to reduce damage to your car from Forest Fires. 

Shannon Lavell of Closet Mystics has also written some helpful articles:

Trauma 101: First Reactions to the Okanagan Mountain Fire
Trauma 201: Parenting After Trauma - Listening for Emotions and Trauma Trauma 301: Getting Back to Normal

The Canadian Home Builders Association of Kelowna offers a helpful link to help select a builder and hire a contractor:   http://www.hiringacontractor.com Full Press Release.

A Castanet reader suggested this link on how Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming recovered from fire in 1988.  Link.


What to do - general public 

  • Family and Friends who want to check the status of loved ones. Call the Red Cross 1-888-350-6070.  The Province also has an emergency line at 1-800-311-7044.
  • Watch for wildlife!  A number of people have reported seeing wildlife (include bears) forced into residential areas from the fires.
  • Stay tuned to local media for further updates should your area be put on alert or you can help.
  • US Federal Emergency Management Agency's guide to Wildfire preparedness and response.


What not to do

  • Boat near the affected areas: Boaters are asked to stay away from the affected areas of the fire.  Boaters too close impede fire fighting efforts.  RCMP can award fines up to $5,000.  Water bombers and helicopters need a wide berth on the Lake to pick up water.
  • Go take a look at an evacuated area: Stay away from alert areas.  Looky-loos have impeded residents trying to pack-up and leave. 
  • Enter unoccupied lands not within the park system: The Kelowna Fire Department is requesting that people stay out of unoccupied lands not within the park system. Dirt bikes, motorcycles and ATV’s in particular could pose a fire danger due to sparks and hot exhaust. Several City and Regional District parks are closed.
  • Water your roof: Emergency officials suggest there is no need for residents in areas under Evacuation Alert to water the asphalt roofs of their homes, unless red hot embers have actually landed on the roofs. Residents whose homes have cedar shake roofs should be aware it takes at least 48 hours of watering before the shakes absorb enough water to be effective in fire prevention. This watering may diminish capacity available for fire fighting efforts and should only be done if necessary.
  • Throw your cigarette butt out your call window.


Living with Wildfire - protecting homes & property

Here are some excellent resource websites supplied to us by Castanet reader Mark K.  She writes:

Many of the sites describe other communities that have experienced similar and possibly worse devastation, and have rallied to do something about it. They have learned from experience and won't let it happen again. These communities now have formal education / prevention programs in place. The program in Bend Oregon was funded by house insurance company.

  1. Sunset Magazine - excellent, easy to understand resource with detailed drawing of "ideal" wildfire-smart home http://www.sunset.com/sunset/home/fire.html
  2. Bend, Oregon - educational program funded by insurance company - www.firefree.org
  3. US National Wildland / Urban Interface Fire Program www.firewise.org
  4. BC Provincial Emergency Program Media Backgrounder - how to protect property from wildland fire - http://www.pep.bc.ca/media/HowToProtectProperty_Wildfire-19082003.pdf see also http://www.pep.bc.ca/media/OFC-InterfaceFires-082003.pdf
  5. BC Auditor General - Managing Interface Risks, including recommendations for improvement at various levels of government - http://www.bcauditor.com/PUBS/2001-02/Report1/sec1.htm
  6. BC Ministry of Forests - link to Alberta-based Partners in Protection - practical tools for building fire-smart communities. Includes profiles of community success stories - http://www.partnersinprotection.ab.ca/downloads/




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Information For Evacuees

Need Red Cross financial assistance? Call 763-1859 ext 202

Canada Post is holding mail for evacuees only. Residents with V1W postal codes can pick it up at 750 Baillie Avenue between 8:30 am and 6:00 pm Residents with V1X or V1P postal codes can pick it up at 190 Rutland Road between 8:30 am and 6:00 pm

Purolator Courier: Due to the fires in Kelowna and evacuations our couriers are unable to deliver freight to customers in the affected areas. We have been holding freight for the evacuees at our depot, but we are unable to contact a lot of customers as we only have access to home phone numbers. Freight for affected areas will be held at our depot at: Purolator Courier Ltd., 613 Adams Road (off Sexsmith Road at Reid's Corner), Kelowna, BC 250-765-9422 or 1-800-668-1774

Pushor Mitchell Lawyers have release a Fire Insurance Claims Guide.

The BCAA has release a couple of useful documents: An FAQ On Home Insurance and How to reduce damage to your car from Forest Fires. 
The BCAA is also accepting home insurance on a case by case basis and had a record month in August for writing new policies.  Press Release.  September 5 - 3:25 pm

The Canadian Home Builders Association of Kelowna offers a helpful link to help select a builder and hire a contractor:   http://www.hiringacontractor.com Full Press Release.



Important Phone Numbers

Public Information Line 868-2632

Report a Fire 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 on your cell to Forestry Officials

Red Cross Assistance 763-1859 ext. 215

Provincial Emergency Information Line 1-800-311-7044

Terasen Gas 1-877-711-8877

Black Mountain Irrigation District 765-5169

Wildlife problem 1-800-663-9453

Ambulance  860-0054 if 911 is busy



Agency Links

City of Kelowna Emergency Bulletins
Interior Health
Provincial Emergency Program
CORD Regional Emergency Plan
BC Forests Wild Fires
RCMP News Releases
Kelowna Weather
Air Quality Index

Find your water provider  Black Mountain Irrigation
Federal Disaster Relief
Terasen Gas
Highway Report
DND - Operation Peregrine



Okanagan Fire Recovery Centre

520 Bernard Avenue  (next to the old Royal Bank building)

open 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday to Friday
open 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Saturday

• 868-2632

Services in the Okanagan Fire Recovery Centre include:
• Damage assessment
• Agency referral
• Demolition permit information
• Building permit information
• Sewer connection and septic tank permit information


Special thanks to Rackforce who have been turbo powering our site on four load balanced servers on their  multi-homed network. 
We also thank Rackforce and Shaw Cable (Big Pipe) for their generous bandwidth donation
so that we can bring you continuous up to date Internet coverage of the fire.