All West Kelowna, B.C., evacuees to be allowed home Wednesday afternoon

WEST KELOWNA, B.C. - Everyone who fled their homes in the path of two raging wildfires will be allowed to return home by suppertime Wednesday.

WEST KELOWNA, B.C. - Everyone who fled their homes in the path of two raging wildfires will be allowed to return home by suppertime Wednesday.

The news was greeted with elation by the remaining evacuees who remained shut out of their homes after evacuation orders on some areas were lifted Tuesday.

Cathy Dobbin, who was outside the evacuation centre when officials broke the news, said she was "ecstatic."

"Cannot wait to go home," Dobbin said.

Added Janice Sneddon, who was with her: "It was like a gift from God."

Dobbin said the first thing she will do when she finally gets home is kiss her house, if it's still there, but she said she's pretty sure it is.

The fire that threatened her subdivision began as a puff of smoke Saturday afternoon, but it spread rapidly and eventually forced 10,000 people to flee.

Three houses were destroyed and a further six structures burned.

A separate fire in nearby Rose Valley pushed another 1,200 people out of their homes and those orders were also lifted Wednesday.

Fire officials said both blazes are 80 per cent under control and by 5 p.m., they should be completely contained.

Joy Oliver said everyone inside the evacuation centre applauded when told they could go home.

"I'm so excited," she said.

"We've been living out of a suitcase and not knowing if you could lose your home."

The Central Okanagan Regional District said the evacuation orders will be downgraded to evacuation alerts by 5 p.m., meaning people will still have to be ready to leave again on a moment's notice.

"It has been a difficult few days and the emergency isn't over," said Jason Johnson, with the district's emergency operations centre.

"West Kelowna residents have been extremely patient in these trying circumstances and I thank everyone for their understanding,"

Residents who return to their homes to find theft or property damage are being told to call police.

RCMP have received reports of at least 10 houses being robbed.

 
 
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