‘It’s out of your control,’ says B.C. wildfire evacuee

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:03 PM ET

CALGARY — As he waits word on when he can return home, one of the 2,500 people displaced by wildfires in Kelowna, B.C., takes comfort in knowing houses like his have so far been spared.

The fire, still 260 hectares in size and 30% contained Saturday, has forced 2,500 residents from 1,100 homes, and another 151 residents remain on alert.

Former Calgarian Pete Warren, his wife Jessica and their three kids were one of those who had to pack up and leave their home in Tallus Ridge in West Kelowna in a hurry as the flames crept closer.

It's not the first time they have lived through a wildfire in Kelowna — in 2009 they were on evacuation alert but not forced to leave.

On Thursday, while driving to work he could see the smoke from Smith Creek near his neighbourhood, so he went home and retrieved important documents and laptop.

A couple hours later, he got a phone call from his 2 1/2-year-old twins' daycare asking him to come pick up the kids before grabbing some clothing, and rounding up his seven-year-old son who was at a play date.

Since then he and his family have been staying with a friend, waiting on word when they can go home and trying not to worry.

"It’s out of your control," he said."We're all together, nobody got separated, and we have got multiple offers of places to stay."

They are pleased the registered evacuees like them are given vouchers for essentials and food.

Living in Kelowna, it's always in the back of mind a wildfire can spark, especially with the intense heat.

"And you hope people are being smart out there, but not everybody is," he said.

Fire-retardant guards were put in place around B.C. Hydro lines near the Smith Creek fire and crews were continuing to create fire breaks Saturday.

Public information officer Carla Weaden said no structures have been lost.

"They have worked hard to put the guard up and the weather has played a role in which direction the wind has blown," she said.

She said with Kelowna's history dealing with wildfires, there are experienced crews on the ground fighting the blaze.

And that has Warren thankful, too.

"We have incredible firefighters and are comforted knowing how they have dealt so well with past fires, with very few homes lost," he said.

Ten other areas in the province remain under evacuation orders due to wildfires.

There are currently 69 wildfires in the province, down from 140 on Friday.

Rain and cool weather allowed officials to downgrade many of the fire danger ratings in the province to low or moderate on Saturday.

About 200 out-of-province firefighters are headed to B.C. this weekend to help quell the blazes.

Dozens of fires continues to rage in the Northwest Territories on Saturday, as well.

Highway 3 re-opened in the territory on Saturday, though officials still warned of poor visibility due to smoke.

katie.schneider@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @SUNKSchneider


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