On August 18, 2023, Bowinn Ma, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness, Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests, and others provided a BC Wildfire Update. Key tourism-related takeaways from the press conference include:
• There are currently wildfires in the Central Okanagan region, and the City of Kelowna and the City of West Kelowna have declared local states of emergency.
• Visitors are asked to not travel to the Central Okanagan at this time, if possible. The Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre has been activated and is leading the response efforts. Important information and updates are available online at www.cordemergency.ca; please sign up to get direct alerts from them.
• The airspace surrounding Kelowna International Airport has been closed to allow aerial firefighting activity for the wildfires in the Kelowna area.
• The next few days are critical for the community. If you must travel, please check the conditions, and stay alert and informed knowing they can change quickly. If you can postpone your trip until later, please do so when the community will be in a better position to serve you.
• With the current conditions, residents and visitors must pay attention to alerts or restrictions in place and follow any updates or orders from Central Okanagan Emergency Operations. This includes staying away from affected areas and staying off the lake where air service personnel are responding. Please also check Drive BC for road conditions and updates, and check Kelowna International Airport for information on airport operations.
• The safety of the community, its residents, and its visitors remain a priority. We’re asking everyone to do their part, be mindful of the conditions, and make safe and responsible decisions. Your concern for our communities is appreciated.
• For more information, visit the BC Wildfire Service website. For information on current conditions contact the Kelowna Visitor Centre at (250) 861-1515 or toll-free at 1-800-663-4345 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting their website and social media channels.
August 18, 2023 Provincial Status Update:
• From August 17-19, hot, dry, and windy conditions are expected around many parts of BC, leading to increased wildfire risk.
• Residents and visitors are asked to avoid all non-essential travel to the Central Interior and Southeast parts of the province, as well as any areas that are currently under an evacuation alert or order. If you must travel, study the BC wildfires interactive map, and emergencyinfobc.ca to learn about evacuation alerts and orders. We all need to give BC Wildfire crews space to keep us safe.
• For those needing to re-book travel for another time, or to alternate, unaffected parts of the province, Visitor Centres around BC are happy to help.
• Lake users are asked to please keep boats away from areas where other aviation resources are operating, to prioritize water access for fire suppression efforts.
• Please also refrain from drone use. Drones are a significant hazard to air crews fighting fires, and it is both illegal and irresponsible to fly them in fire-affected areas.
• The situation can change rapidly, and anyone travelling in BC is asked to monitor official information sources (detailed below) regularly, including the BC Wildfire Service and DriveBC.
• Be prepared for changes/additions to evacuation alerts and orders. You can learn more about the difference between evacuation alerts and orders, here.
• Visitors are encouraged to download and allow notifications from Alertable: a community notification app with customizable settings to receive the latest local alerts, such as road closures and evacuation information, straight to your mobile device.
Watch the full Government of BC press conference, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_IYnlRZfRw
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