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Don’t dodge wildfire checkpoints, Okanagan residents warned

Anoyone entering wildfire restriction area without authorization could face $1,150 violation ticket
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The McDougall Creek wildfire burns on the mountainside above lakefront homes in West Kelowna, B.C., on Friday, Aug. 18, 2023. West Kelowna area residents are being warned to stay out of wildfire restricted areas or face possible fines. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Residents of wildfire evacuation zones around West Kelowna, B.C., are being warned not to try to dodge police checkpoints and to stay out of restricted areas or face possible fines.

The Central Okanagan Regional District says in a statement people attempting to reach their properties by boat or forest access roads within the McDougall Creek wildfire restriction area could face $1,150 violation tickets.

The district says a wildfire area restriction was implemented on Aug. 25 and remains in force until noon Friday, but could be extended.

The district says safe re-entry to neighbourhoods continues to be a priority, and temporary access to West Kelowna’s Traders Cove and Pine Point neighbourhoods was granted Thursday for residents to retrieve important items, with a similar opening for Wilson’s Landing under consideration.

The regional district estimates about 405 properties in the West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation and the Central Okanagan Regional District areas remain on evacuation order and 12,303 properties are on alert.

The McDougall Creek wildfire, which destroyed about 200 properties in the Okanagan, remains classified as out-of-control and is estimated at more than 135 square kilometres.

“Enforcement of the area restriction continues to be a challenge as members of the public are still being reported in the area, attempting to access properties by boat from Okanagan Lake and forestry roads,” says the regional district statement.

“RCMP and conservation officer staff are in place for the foreseeable future to continue checkpoint security and continue to enforce the area restriction order.”

The district says risks in the wildfire zone include falling trees, the presence of heavy equipment, and hot ash pits created by burning tree stumps and roots.

READ MORE: Charred ruins greet tour as B.C.’s Shuswap seeks wildfire closure