West Kelowna residents in the Rose Valley area were filled with a mixture of emotions as they returned to their homes after the McDougall Creek wildfire swept through their neighborhood. While some communities, like Traders Cove and West Kelowna Estates, experienced significant home losses, the efforts of firefighters saved thousands of homes.
Although the fire came dangerously close to the Rose Valley community, no homes were lost in that area. On Friday, the evacuation order for much of the Rose Valley neighborhood was lifted, allowing residents to return home. Many residents took to the streets to catch up with neighbors and view the aftermath of the fire on the hills surrounding their homes.
The fire came right up to the backyards of homes on Roseridge Court and Rosealee Lane. However, firefighters successfully defended these homes, and the blackened earth stopped at the fence lines.
The fire also reached the edge of Westlake Road and burned through Rose Valley Regional Park near Rose Valley Elementary School. The park remains closed, but the school and other critical infrastructure in the neighborhood, such as the nearly completed $75 million water treatment plant, were saved from the fire.
West Kelowna Fire Chief Jason Brolund emphasized the importance of protecting the water treatment plant during a press conference. Despite the fire burning over the plant on August 18, it remained undamaged.
While those returning to Rose Valley expressed relief that their homes were still standing, many were not as fortunate. The McDougall Creek wildfire damaged at least 174 properties in West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation land, and the RDCO electoral area. Thousands of people are still evacuated.
Fire officials will provide an update on the current fire situation in a press conference on Saturday at 10 a.m., which will be streamed live.