Connect with others

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Residents returning home after the destructive White Rock Lake wildfire in British Columbia's Interior are being encouraged to connect with family and neighbours or reach out to a mental health help line.

Corie Griffiths, director of the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre, says returning home after a wildfire brings a wave of emotions and those needing to talk to someone should know they're not alone.

The regional district has set up a recovery office for area residents and property owners who experienced significant structural damage and is offering an information guide for those who have been affected.

It covers a variety of topics including checking for hazards before entering a home and wearing appropriate clothing like long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, rubber boots and an N-95 dust mask.

Bagged and non-burnt yard waste can be taken to the North Westside Transfer Station, but other options are available for fridges and freezers as well as hazardous waste like wood from damaged buildings.

The regional district says preliminary assessments confirm that 78 properties in the Estamont and Killiney Beach areas sustained significant damage.

“Be cautious of potential hazards in the area due to wildfire and fire suppression activity,” it says of the fire that is being held and not likely to spread beyond containment lines.

Residents are also being asked to watch for wildlife, hazardous trees and debris, and to call 911 if they see any spot fires threatening homes or other areas.

The regional district says 340 homes have been inspected for occupancy and placards in different colours have been placed to indicate the state of the property.

Green placards mean there's minor to no fire damage, orange ones indicate restricted use and red placards show the home is unsafe.

“Please follow the notes that the assessors have provided on the signs,” a statement from the district says.

It's also advising residents and the public to stay out of the backcountry and says entry is restricted to all Crown lands near the White Rock Lake fire.