Majority of evacuation orders, alerts rescinded in Okanagan Centre

Nearly 80% of the 337 homes under an evacuation order in Okanagan Centre are being allowed to return home.

As well, the 657 properties under an evacuation alert are now off the hook.

That leaves 69 properties on Nighthawk Road, Long Road, and part of Tyndall Road that are still under an evacuation order.

At a briefing on Sunday evening, Lake Country Fire Chief Steve Windsor said the cause hasn't been confirmed, but that in the absence of lightning, it's believed people were responsible.

"At this point, we haven't been able to determine any cause, as we're still in a firefighting mode," he said.

"That will come in due time, and it's being spearheaded by the RCMP Arson investigation, and the BC Forest service investigators."

It was also confirmed that eight homes on Nighthawk were lost in the fire, along with a garage on Tyndall.

Windsor talked about the damage.

"Earlier we met with many of these people who lost their homes, and will continue to try and reach those we haven't been able to talk to," he said, adding that they've at least been in contact with all affected property owners.

"We want you to know that we did everything possible to save and protect everyone's homes and properties. As a firefighter, we do everything we can to protect lives and property. In the end, the safety of first responders must take precedence."

Windsor says the fire just moved too quickly up the hill, close to where it started near Okanagan Lake.

"The downside to where the fire started was that it's extremely steep - that runs from the lake right up to below the houses on Nighthawk. It's extremely difficult terrain, you really have difficulty even accessing it in there," he said.

"The plus side that we had on Nighthawk, is that there is a municipal water system, so we had fire hydrants along that street there."

As of Sunday, the 55-hectare wildfire had been 80% contained by a perimeter of fire retardant, and 50% contained by hand guard.

Maps and further details are up at www.cordemergency.ca/map