UPDATE 4:30 p.m.
More residents heading home as threat decreases from the McDougall Creek wildfire in West Kelowna.
The remainder of properties in Smith Creek on evaucation order are now on alert.
Residents are reminded that they should still have a grab-and-go bag ready just in case.
ORIGINAL 6 a.m.
Fighting the still out of control McDougall Creek wildfire in West Kelowna has been a unified, multidisciplinary and challenging effort for the experts on the front lines of the blaze.
The wildfire was first spotted on Aug. 15, but grew significantly on Aug. 17, when a cold front moved into the region, bringing extreme winds that stoked the fire.
A lack of visibility due to heavy smoke has been an ongoing issue for crews battling the blaze from the land and sky over the past 11 days.
Over the past weeks, firefighters have been forced to pull back and retreat to safe locations intermittently as a result of dangerous fire conditions and low visibility.
Fire departments from across the province sent trucks, equipment and crews to help protect structures as the blaze grew and encroached on West Kelowna.
The firefighting effort has been unified undertaking between West Kelowna Fire Rescue, the BC Wildfire Service, the Regional District of the Central Okanagan, the RCMP, bylaw services BC Hydro and the communities themselves, said the Wildfire Service.
At times, more than 500 firefighters were working together to suppress the blaze and protect communities in West Kelowna.
Despite the massive effort, the explosive nature of the fire and it’s rapid growth resulted in damage to approximately 84 properties, said the BC Wildfire Service. The number of structures damaged remains unknown as multiple structures may be located on a single property.
Several properties in West Kelowna and Regional District Central Okanagan Electoral Area West remain under an evacuation order.
Interior Health has started the return of long-term care residents to Village at Smith Creek now that threat of wildfire has been reduced.
Those properties, and others on evacuation alert, can be viewed on the Central Okanagan Emergency Centre Operations (EOC) website.
The McDougall Creek wildfire is part of the Grouse Complex wildfire which includes the Walroy Lake wildfire in north Kelowna and the Clarke Creek wildfire in Lake Country.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
People with property inside of evacuation zones are now be able to check to see the status of their homes.
The Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre has launched the online search tool for residents of West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation and Central Okanagan West Electoral Area who were evacuated due to the wildfire.
The tool only applies for residents who had a property placed on evacuation order, and the general public not on order are asked to be respectful and not currently use the tool, which can be accessed by going to www.cordemergency.ca/propertyinfo.