All residents displaced by the Christie Mountain wildfire can now return to their homes, the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen announced Tuesday.
An evacuation order was issued last week for 319 homes, as the wildfire encroached on properties in the Heritage Hills area south of Penticton, B.C.
The evacuation order was lifted late Tuesday afternoon for the final 75 properties near the top of Heritage Hills, following similar news for the residents of 244 homes earlier in the day. All of the affected properties remain under evacuation alert.
Residents are asked to check the district's website for details. Re-entry kits will be given to everyone as they pass through a checkpoint, RDOS spokesperson Erick Thompson said.
"We're doing everything we can to make sure this happens as fast as possible, because I know a lot of people have been very patient waiting to get home," he said.
On Monday, an evacuation alert was lifted for nearly 3,700 properties in Penticton, where residents had been advised they should be prepared to leave at a moment's notice.
An evacuation alert for 116 homes in the Upper Carmi area and Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park has also been rescinded.
Wildfire dying down
The B.C. Wildfire Service says the fire, which has scorched more than 20 square kilometres of land on the east side of Skaha Lake and destroyed one home since last week, is now classified as Rank 1 on a scale of six. Rank 1 are smouldering ground fires with no open flames and white smoke that can be attacked directly by ground crews using hand tools, pumps and hoses. The wildfire service says 217 firefighters are onsite with support from a dozen helicopters and four water tenders.
Dennis Rexin, a deputy incident commander with the B.C. Wildfire Service, said crews are taking advantage of cooler weather and making "great effort and great progress" in containing the fire.
He expects there will be smouldering areas for quite some time, but that the fire should be contained within the near future.
There are few open flames left and nothing in the immediate weather forecast that is cause for concern, he added.
Residents and visitors can expect to continue seeing aircraft using Skaha Lake in firefighting efforts, Rexin said.
"We will continue to be drawing water from the eastern side of the lake for the foreseeable future," he said.