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West Kelowna mayor urges Albertans to free up hotels for wildfire evacuees

Photo of the Mount Law wildfire burning in West Kelowna. Aug. 18, 2021 (Photo provided by Bill and Laura Wilson)

WEST KELOWNA – As wildfires continue to rage west of Alberta, tourists are being asked to postpone any planned visits to B.C.’s Okanagan region.

West Kelowna Mayor Gord Milsom is asking tourists to be mindful and help free up accommodations for potential evacuees.

“We just ask that Okanagan tourists make every effort they can to help those that need hotel rooms,” he said.

“Help [us] out by even freeing up some of the short-term accommodations for those that have been evacuated or may still be evacuated.”

READ MORE: ‘Do not travel to fire-affected areas’: Albertans, it’s time to cancel your trip into B.C.

Thousands of people in West Kelowna were forced to flee their homes due to the Mount Law wildfire, which is about 800 hectares in size.

Milsom says recently there has been some cooperation from Mother Nature, bringing cooler temperatures and light rain.

“Firefighters from B.C. Wildfire and our local fire department, and other fire departments have come together and they’ve done a great job in battling the fire.”

Some evacuation orders and alerts have been downgraded or rescinded as a result of progress on the fire.

On Monday, B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth urged people to avoid vacationing in places like the Okanagan, to ensure people in fire-affected communities can evacuate if necessary.

“Given the conditions we’re seeing in our communities and on our highways, I want to be clear: do not travel to fire-affected areas for non-essential reasons. We want to ensure that people in fire-affected communities will be able to evacuate if necessary and access the supports that they need,” he said.


“If you are planning to travel to those areas, it’s time to change your plans. Instead, visit an area of the province where your presence won’t strain local resources and will have a positive impact,” the safety minister added.

There are currently more than 260 wildfires burning across the province, the majority of them in the Kamloops and Southeast fire centres.

Both those areas are home to popular travel destinations, such as the Okanagan and the Kootenays.

-with files from NEWS 1130