A fast-burning wildfire threatening West Kelowna, B.C., is challenging fire crews as they brace for what the operations director with BC Wildfire Service has predicted will be the most challenging days of the provincial wildfire season.

Thousands of people have been placed on evacuation alert in the Okanagan city, while close to a thousand properties have been placed on evacuation order because of the McDougall Creek wildfire.

The Central Okanagan Emergency Operation Centre issued a local state of emergency because of the fire, which is threatening suburbs, schools and businesses in the city.

The fire threat forced the closure of Highway 97 in both directions for 14 kilometres between West Kelowna and Kelowna.

The City of Kelowna also declared a state of emergency, as fire crews responded to spot fires coming across Okanagan Lake from the McDougall Creek wildfire.

An evacuation order has been issued for the Clifton Road North and McKinley neighbourhoods, as well as for properties surrounding Hidden Lake and Still Pond. Residents along the west side of Glenmore Road from McKinley Beach to John Hindle Road have been put on evacuation alert.

To the west, the rapidly growing Kookipi Creek wildfire has prompted multiple evacuation orders and alerts for Blue Sky Country, Nahatlatch Provincial Park and the surrounding area.

Cliff Chapman says the cold front that began sweeping the southern half of the province yesterday is bringing in high, unpredictable winds and dry lightning that create the potential for new fires and growth on those they are trying to contain.

Emergency Management Minister Bowinn Ma says the wildfire service has "significant resources" on the West Kelowna fire, which is burning just a few away from the city, but she urges everyone in the region to prepare in case they are ordered to leave.

Fire threatens homes near West Kelowna, evacuation orders, alerts issued in #Kelowna. #BCWildfires #Wildfires #WestKelownaWildfires

Of the 374 active fires in the province, 159 of them remain out of control, and more than a dozen of those are either highly visible or a threat to a community.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 18, 2023.

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