The latest news on the wildfires ravaging British Columbia

Wildfires raging throughout British Columbia have damaged or destroyed hundreds of properties and forced more than 25,000 people from their homes. The province remains in a state of emergency as crews battle the more than 375 active blazes.

Here are the latest developments on the B.C. wildfires (all times are PT):

5:34 p.m.

The Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre has launched an online tool for evacuated residents in the region to check on the status of their properties in the wake of the McDougall Creek wildfire.

Owners in the evacuation order zones in West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation and Central Okanagan's West Electoral Area can visit the website to see if their properties suffered partial to full structural loss.

Data collected by emergency officials says 84 properties in West Kelowna and Westbank First Nation suffered some degree of structural damage, along with another 90 properties in Central Okanagan's West Electoral Area.


3:10 p.m.

Kelowna Mounties say while the non-essential travel ban to much of the region has been lifted, boaters hoping to access Okanagan Lake should stay off the water between the William R. Bennett Bridge and Fintry Provincial Park.

Police say firefighting aircraft continue to operate in the area and may deploy "at any moment," meaning private vessels should keep that portion of the lake open for plane access.

The R-C-M-P say the enforcement of the boating restriction at Okanagan Lake will persist until the time when firefighting aircraft are no longer actively operating near Kelowna.


2:32 p.m.

Central Okanagan's Emergency Operations Centre has lifted the evacuation order for a number of areas in the District of Lake Country.

The properties that are now under an alert instead of an evacuation order centre mainly around the areas of Bond Road, Camp Road and Tyndall Road north of Kelowna.

Officials are reminding residents returning to their homes that an active alert means they must remain prepared to leave again "at a moment's notice" if the wildfire situation changes.


2:15 p.m.

The BC Wildfire Service says the Bush Creek East wildfire threatening the Shuswap region has seen a "widespread diminishing of fire behaviour" due to last night's heavy rainfall.

Information officer Forrest Tower says weather stations in the area received as much as 20 millimetres of rain, and the reduction in smoke has allowed helicopter access to parts of the fire that were difficult to reach in the days before.

Tower says the blaze may jump significantly in size when the wildfire service updates the perimeter to reflect growth since last Friday, when crews were last able to assess the area.


1:45 p.m.

British Columbia's Economic Development Association says it is launching a survey focused on the impacts of this year's record wildfire season on businesses.

The association says the online survey is applicable to all wildfire-affected businesses across B.C., including those in Indigenous communities.

It says the survey is designed to measure the economic impacts stemming from all wildfire-related disruptions, such as road closures, evacuation orders, smoke, event cancellations and public perceptions of closures.


1:39 p.m.

The operations director for the BC Wildfire Service says online criticism of firefighting efforts in regions including the North Shuswap has "absolutely" had a negative effect on the psyche of his crews.

Cliff Chapman says they recognize there are questions requiring answers, but negative comments are weighing on already-stressed firefighters.

He says the service is offering support to firefighters, and the public should also show support to crews working in the field, as it "means the world to them."


1:23 p.m.

While parts of the wildfire-ravaged southern Interior have received a "reprieve" with last night's heavy rainfall, B.C. officials say residents should remain on alert.

Forests Minister Bruce Ralston says the summer drought has left parts of B.C. very dry and at risk of catching fire, even with the recent cool and wet weather.

Ralston says residents should also keep track of road closures and advisories throughout the province to avoid disrupting firefighting efforts.


1:15 p.m.

B.C. Emergency Management Minister Bowinn Ma says people with homes under evacuation orders must leave, despite the urge to stay and protect their property.

Ma says the BC Wildfire Service is engaging with residents who have firefighting expertise and trying to include them, but everyone else must obey the orders.

If people stay behind, she says firefighting tactics such as aerial water-bombing and back-burning can't take place.


11:50 a.m.

Parts of the Okanagan-Similkameen region affected by the Upper Park Rill Creek wildfire near Okanagan Falls have seen evacuation orders rescinded.

The regional district says residents of some properties in the Willowbrook area are allowed to return home.

However, it says properties along Grand Oro Road and those in the Yellow Brick Road area remain under an evacuation order.


11:45 a.m.

The interim national chief of the Assembly of First Nations is calling for more support for Indigenous people and communities in B.C. and the Northwest Territories affected by recent wildfires.

Joanna Bernard says in a statement that many First Nations members are facing the "most severe wildfire season on record," and all levels of government need to make sure they are protected and supported during the crisis.

The statement identifies a number of communities needing more attention, which include Yellowknife, Ndilo and Dettah in the Northwest Territories as well as the Tsilhqot’in Nation and the Adams Lake Indian Band in B.C.


10:35 a.m.

West Kelowna fire Chief Jason Brolund has confirmed 84 properties in West Kelowna and the Westbank First Nation have some level of damage from the fires.

Brolund says yesterday was the first time the hills and mountains surrounding the community were visible.

He said what he saw was "pretty shocking" with smoke and glowing in the hills.

Brolund says rain overnight is going to be a "boost" to fighting the 120-square-kilometre McDougall Creek wildfire.


10:25 a.m.

Chief Ross Kotscherofski of North Westside Fire Rescue says his region has "received rain, and a lot of it,” and it will help with "mopping up" fires around the lake.

Kotscherofski says 90 properties in his firefighting region were damaged or destroyed.

He says some of those properties, including the Lake Okanagan Resort, consist of multiple structures.


10:15 a.m.

Doug Gilchrist, manager of the emergency operations centre, says a website is launching later today where homeowners in West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation and the Central Okanagan Regional District can learn if their properties have been damaged or destroyed in the wildfires.

Gilchrist says some properties in Kelowna, West Kelowna and Lake Country will be downgraded today from evacuation orders to alerts.

He says those returning to their homes should be cautious and stay out of forested areas.


9:00 a.m.

The BC Wildfire Service says smoke conditions and visibility have significantly improved over the last day for wildfires in the Okanagan Valley, allowing air operations to resume.

It says such operations were hampered in recent days due to poor visibility.

The service says there are now 17 helicopters assigned to bucketing and fire management for the McDougall Creek, Walroy Lake and Clarke Creek wildfires.

6:42 a.m.

The British Columbia RCMP say the significance of understanding and preventing unauthorized people from entering evacuation zones is essential.

The warning comes after the Columbia Shuswap Regional District said it has been made aware of emails and social media posts saying people do not need a permit to go into evacuation order areas, but clarifies that this information is "completely false" and a permit is required.

The Mounties say evacuation zones are put in place to safeguard people from fires, but also from other potential hazards including gas leaks, electrical hazards and falling trees.

They say unauthorized people in these zones can impede response efforts, and may face legal consequences including fines or, in serious cases, imprisonment.


6:30 a.m.

King Charles III has issued a statement saying he and his wife, Camilla, are "deeply concerned" about the states of emergency happening in British Columbia and the Northwest Territories.

He says in a statement posted to social media that he recognizes it has been a difficult summer for Canadians, noting severe flooding, devastating wildfires and deteriorating air quality across the country.

Charles says he and Camilla are sending condolences for anyone who has lost loved ones and are praying for anyone who has been displaced or have lost their homes, businesses or property.


5:30 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government is "relieved" to hear the fires in British Columbia and the Northwest Territories are being tempered and controlled.

Speaking from Charlottetown, Trudeau says Emergency Preparedness Minister Harjit Sajjan updated officials at Monday's incident response meeting from B.C.

He says the government "will continue to be there" for those impacted, noting Canadian Armed Forces are being deployed and that Service Canada is helping people who have been displaced by the fires.

Trudeau also thanked firefighters for their hard work, and issued his appreciation for those who "stepped up" and opened their communities and homes to evacuees.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 23, 2023.

The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version mistakenly said Ross Kotscherofski referred to fires on the east side of Lake Okanagan.