Archive for July 19th, 2009

Fire in the Okanagan – Again

July 19, 2009

From hot and serene to hot and a disaster in literally minutes.

Apparently yesterday, just before 3 PM a fire was reported in the timber above the highway on the south side of Westbank, in the Glenrosa area and just above Gorman’s mill.

I was on my way back to Kelowna on the Connector from a meeting in Kamloops when I heard the report on the radio and could see the smoke rising from the other side of the mountain. I intersected with Highway 97 just before 4 PM and the highway was lined with vehicles on the side of the road with people standing there looking at the fire just up the hill. Lots of smoke and you could see flames. The police had stopped all of the traffic going into the Glenrosa area but at that point the highway traffic was still moving through. If I had arrived an hour or so later I wouldn’t  have made it through and home.

It was incredibly windy, which is what was driving the fire. Water bombers and ground crews were working the fire.

The fire was right around the houses. Although the media said they couldn’t confirm any houses being lost, at that point, Morag said that there was a man in where she was working who was in tears as his son’s house had been destroyed. The Glenrosa area was evacuated with no advance warning.

Not too much later that it was reported that the fire had jumped across Highway 97 and was burning down towards Okanagan Lake and into the Gellatly area and all of that area was evacuated as well.

Then it was reported that there were two other fires – unrelated – burning in the area. One right behind us in Rose Valley canyon and the other to the north of us on Terrace Mountain. The Terrace Mountain fire at least was not threatening any houses.

Then this morning we woke to find that we were on evacuation alert due to the Rose Valley fire over the hill behind us. The good thing the first thing this morning was that the wind had abated, it has now picked up again a bit which will not help the situation. I am keeping the radio on just in case there is an evacuation order for us. I suspect that unless there is a radical change that we will be OK as it was ranked as a level 4 fire last night but has been downgraded to a 2 right now.

Now (11 AM) there is a new report of another fire on the other side of Okanagan Lake in the Mission area of Kelowna, but I think they got that one quickly under control.

It almost feels as though we are under attack.

In the meantime we have put together our emergency pack and loaded my truck with things we couldn’t replace, such as photographs, etc. Unfortunately my plan to watch the final round of the Open rather went out the window. Only saw the playoff between Tom Watson and Stewart Cink, where Watson unfortunately – after leading right to the final hole in regulation – literally came unglued. To bad as it would have been an even bigger story than if Greg Norman had won last year. Not to be in either case.

On the other hand Cink earned his first major and has been around and played at a high level long enough that he deserves to be there.

A segue from fire to golf.


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