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Vernon Search and Rescue busy helping wildfire evacuees

VSAR boat, ground and bike crews have been assisting in West Kelowna, Lake Country and the Shuswap
Vernon Search and Rescue continues to help with evacuations in the Shuswap and Central Okanagan Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023. (VSAR photo)

Vernon Search and Rescue (VSAR) has had a busy couple of days rescuing people from wildfire zones.

From late Thursday night to early Saturday morning, VSAR has assisted with issuing evacuation orders and with the evacuation of stranded residents in West Kelowna, Lake Country and Scotch Creek. The crew has also been east of Chase and Sorrento and helping out evacuees along Westside Road.

“We are so proud to have been able to work alongside our fellow volunteers at Central Okanagan Search & Rescue, Shuswap Search and Rescue, Kamloops Search and Rescue, Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Station #106 - Shuswap and (Civil Air Search and Rescue Association),” VSAR said Saturday morning.

“The amazing people in these groups are doing incredible work for their communities and we are happy we could help them. We hope everyone can stay safe in this very challenging time.”

VSAR search manager Trevor Honigman said the team’s entire arsenal has been utilized in the evacuation efforts.

“We’re using boat crews, ground crews, bike crews — everyone,” he said.

Honigman said the Lower East Adams Lake wildfire was “pushing hard” through the Scotch Creek area Friday night and Saturday morning, and emergency personnel were doing “everything they could.”

He advises that “everybody in the entire area come up with their family their own evacuation plan,” deciding what they are going to take with them if they are told to leave their homes.

“Have that plan ready weeks before they need it and start now, plan and have everything ready to go so that when the situation demands it, in a short period of time they can just load and go. “Honigman said. “That is the best way of keeping everybody calm and it takes a lot of the anxiety out of everything.”

The Vernon ESS Reception Centre reopened at 9 a.m. Saturday and will continue to accommodate evacuees from the Central Okanagan throughout the day.

READ MORE: ‘Aggressive’ Twin Lakes wildfire still 1,090 hectares; hundreds displaced

READ MORE: All flights in and out of Kelowna remain cancelled due to wildfires

Brendan Shykora
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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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