British Columbia lifts travel restrictions for all cities in Okanagan region as wildfires diminish

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Travel restrictions for the city of West Kelowna have been lifted, ending all travel restrictions for the Okanagan region in British Columbia as rainfalls in the past week have worked to dimmish the wildfires that blazed across the region.

Emergency Management Minister Bowinn Ma said in a statement late Thursday that travel restrictions to West Kelowna — adjacent to the McDougall Creek wildfire — has been lifted as of midnight.

Earlier this week, the government of British Columbia had lifted travel restrictions in most of the province’s wildfire-affected interior, with the exception of West Kelowna where non-essential travel remained prohibited. The restrictions were put in on August 19 o ensure there are accommodations for evacuees and emergency personnel.

The Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre downgraded all orders within Kelowna, as well as those for some homes in West Kelowna Estates and more than 300 properties in the District of Lake Country, to alert status. However, as of Thursday night, evacuation orders are still in effect in parts of West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation and Lake Country.

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Residents were also cautioned for any damages left behind by the fires, as well any any dangers such as damaged trees – that can be reported to the City of Kelowna if they are on public property.

However, the wildfires continue to affect other areas in British Columbia including the Stein Mountain blaze near Lytton now at close to 33 square kilometres in size, officials said.

So far, wildfires have torched almost 18,000 square kilometres of land in British Columbia. Out of these, 71 per cent of the fires were caused by lightning and 23 per cent were triggered by people.

Rahat Sandhu

NEWS

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