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Residents of fire ravaged neighbourhoods say they were kept out far too long

Lara MacDonald is a holistic healer by trade.

But when it comes to her treatment by local officials in the wake of the fire, she's not feeling very zen.

We interviewed MacDonald a few hours before many areas along Westside Road were re-opened this afternoon.

It's not just MacDonald's Bear Creek area home that spent 28 days behind the evacuation lines, it's also her home-based business.

When officials say it's unsafe for her to return, she's not buying it.

Not anymore.

"We don't know why it's not safe, and we're getting insider information to the contrary," she said.

"From what we understand, yes it is safe for us to go up there."

<who> Photo Credit: NowMedia <who> Lara MacDonald

And she said the passage of time comes at a real cost.

"I'm not able to see clients, I've had to find rental properties," explained MacDonald.

She said homeowners are running out of time on a 30-day period during which an insurance adjuster is expected to have visited the property to put through an evacuation claim.

"We're two days away on that timeline. No adjuster has been to any of our properties."

And she's not alone in her frustration.

<who> Photo Credit: NowMedia

MacDonald was among a group of residents, displaced by the McDougall Creek fire who gathered to voice their impatience at MLA Ben Stewart's office yesterday.

Westbank Fire Chief Jason Brolund declined an interview on the topic Wednesday.

The Emergency Operations Centre was working to find us someone to address the questions, even as meetings were ongoing about rescinding some of the very orders that some residents question.

<who> Photo Credit: NowMedia

Macdonald's negative critique of the way the situation has been handled doesn't stop with the lengthy loss of access.

She said she's had to use back-channels to find the true status of her home.

"We haven't had anyone to go up and tell us, can we even live in the home at this point?" she asked.

It's officially listed in the same category as those that have been burned to the ground, even though she knows her home is mostly ok, with just damage to her deck and outbuildings.

"They could take pictures, give us passwords to our address," she suggested.

Fire officials and the Emergency Operations Centre have maintained from the outset that evacuations remained in place with safety being the guiding priority.

"There were power lines and dead trees everywhere," said Paul Gipps at the City of West Kelowna.

"It's about safety."

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