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Officials in B.C.'s Central Okanagan announced that more evacuation orders have been downgraded Saturday as firefighters continue to battle blazes in the area.
All remaining evacuation orders in Lake Country were downgraded to alerts on Saturday, as well as several orders in West Kelowna, including properties in the upper Tallus Ridge, Shannon Woods Drive and Rainbow Road areas.
Evacuation orders were also downgraded in parts of the Westbank First Nation.
Thousands of people remain out of their homes due to the McDougall Creek wildfire and other blazes.
However, two of those fires — burning within the City of Kelowna and Lake Country just north of it — are now being held after a week of dogged firefighting from the B.C. Wildfire Service (BCWS) and municipal firefighters.
"There's lots of cleanup going on out there," Ireland said at a Saturday morning news conference. "There's still danger trees. People must remember — the fire is being held. The fire is not out.
"Alerts are going to remain in place over the weekend. Be vigilant. Do not go into the burnt areas."
Ireland said residents should keep an eye on the Regional District of Central Okanagan (RDCO)'s website for when orders would lift, and return-to-home information for evacuees.
West Kelowna Fire Chief Jason Brolund is saying that firefighters have made good progress in steering fires away from homes. (Tom Popyk/CBC)
In total, more than 900 properties in the region were taken off evacuation order on Friday, with officials saying the focus has now shifted to recovery and rebuilding efforts.
Late last week, officials said 181 properties were damaged or razed by blazes in the area, including four in the City of Kelowna and three in the Lake Country.
Jodie Foster, an RDCO spokesperson, said that number will likely grow as firefighters survey the extent of damage in West Kelowna and the regional district.
RCMP officers patrol Okanagan Lake near destroyed homes in West Kelowna on Wednesday, Aug. 23. (Chris Corday/CBC)
"While we are transitioning into recovery, somewhat, it's going at different paces in different communities depending on the severity of the fires within those communities," she said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the region on Friday, with officials saying he was receptive to their concerns and needs for more long-term infrastructure and fire mitigation funding in the region.
The B.C. government, meanwhile, says mental health supports are available for people affected by wildfires, with disaster psychological support personnel deployed to emergency reception centres throughout the Interior.