September 29, 2023

Fire in Canada: Return to Kelowna and the Unknown

More than 1,000 fires are burning in Canada. The British Columbia government is talking about the worst wildfire season on record.

08/23/2023 | 05:57 minutes

As Chris Burton walks through the gates of his city at 1 a.m. Wednesday, he still doesn’t know if he will be able to continue with the life he was forced to interrupt five days ago. She and her 16-year-old daughter were among thousands of residents in Kelowna, British Columbia, who were forced to evacuate last week from raging wildfires.

Last Friday, firefighters were evacuated from several counties as the fire approached.

Many stayed with friends and family

The British Columbia government finally lifted the evacuation order for Kelowna and parts of neighboring cities between midnight Tuesday and Wednesday.

So this Wednesday is a big Easter day for Kelowna. Many residents stayed with friends or relatives for a few days at a safe distance.

In British Columbia, the military is also on standby due to wildfires. The fire continues to rage, but there are also victories.

08/21/2023 | 02:10 min

Many of the returnees boarded boats across Upper Arrow Lake overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday. In the back of their pickup trucks, they stack bikes, furniture, clothes, and other things they don’t want to leave behind. Some walk their dogs a few meters away. Among them was Chris Burton and his daughter.

Strong winds spread the fire across Lake Okanagan

Kelowna is a bisected city divided by a lake. Chris filmed West Kelowna burning on the opposite side from his East Bank home.

At night, the bonfires in the videos glow brightly, sending large sparks and burning pellets flying into the air, causing strong winds to blow across Okanagan Lake.

The fire was carried to our seaward side. We actually thought the water would stop.

Chris Burton

Then Chris decides to flee: “We know we can’t stay any longer.”

Returnees don’t know if their home is still there

They stayed five days in Calgary, the next largest city. Of course they followed the news there, the daily press conferences of those in charge. At last count around 200 houses were destroyed in the area. You haven’t figured out if you have thoughts of your own. Kelowna firefighters did a great job saving thousands of homes from the blaze. But their greatest merit is that there are no dead.

When the Burtons return they have good news: their home and neighborhood are safe. Firefighters extinguished the fire in time. For other families, it becomes clear on this day that their previous life, their home, has fallen victim to fire. You are left with nothing.

Some houses were saved from the fire by the efforts of the firemen.Source: ZDF

Rain improves the situation, but there is a burning smell

Victims don’t want to find out on television that their house is no longer standing, which is why police officers at roadblocks don’t allow newspapers to report on burned areas. However, on the hillside, you can clearly see where the flames are burning. Burnt areas in the Green Hills of Kelowna west of Okanagan Lake are black and white.

The wind died down and it rained again that night, finally. A long drought has blighted vast swathes of British Columbia’s forests. The rain also lifted the smog that had shrouded the city on the hillsides for days. The burning smell is still everywhere, but breathing is easy again. And because visibility has improved, firefighting helicopters can be used again.

“So far, about 14 million hectares have been burned by more than 5,700 fires that are currently burning,” ZDF reporter Elmer Theven said. Canada.

08/21/2023 | 03:42 min

Fire Brigade: No casualties so far

The battle against fires in the Kelowna region appears to have been won for now. While the fire could burn for months, Chief Jason Broland of the West Kelowna Fire Department explained the situation at a daily news conference Thursday.

Today, to the best of my knowledge and belief, using the best means at our disposal, I can report that no one has died till date.

Jason Broland, West Kelowna Fire Department

Tens of thousands had to flee their homes

Canada is currently experiencing its worst wildfire season on record. 15 million hectares of forests have already been burnt this year. Man-made climate change has increased the likelihood of such extreme events creating conditions for disaster.
Over the past week, more than 50,000 people have been forced to evacuate their homes, including the entire population of Yellowknife, the capital of the Northwest Territories. There, too, 2,000 kilometers to the north, firefighters received some help from rain and slack winds.