Things had seemingly settled down and life has returned to normal – our evacuation alert had been canceled – when the Terrace Mountain fire to the north of us flared up again. The reports were that the fire was 90% contained and they had let almost all of the people that had been evacuated up on the Westside road back into their homes. Then the winds picked up, this time from the west and the fire took off again, jumping from 4500 hectares to 7500 hectares overnight. All of those poor folks got evacuated again and the Westside road has been closed once again to traffic.
We couldn’t see the fire from our viewpoint but friends across Okanagan Lake said that they watched it come over the ridge towards the lake and of course towards the settled areas. Then, fortunately for the westside residences the wind switched so it was now coming from the north and drove the fire south along the ridge. They figured that if the wind hadn’t switched the fire would have been very quickly right down to the lake with disastrous results.
I have been more concerned about this fire than I was about the Rose Valley fire that had burned right behind us, although if the winds had been blowing from the west it could have been a different story there as well.
But if the Terrace Mountain fire were to keep moving south it could very easily put our area at risk. However it is still quite a distance from us. Hopefully that won’t change.
The smoke is extremely heavy right now. We couldn’t see across to the city of Kelowna this afternoon and it is laying thick around us this evening.
We took a drive into Kelowna tonight to see if we could could look back across the lake and get a glimpse of any fire activity. The smoke was so heavy we couldn’t determine if the fire had subsided somewhat or if the smoke cover just hid it.
I guess the only surprise to me on this fire is that it didn’t happen years ago. I used to spend a fair bit of time in that bit of country close to 20 years ago and I figured then that if a fire ever started over there it would be a dandy. There was a tremendous amount of ground cover ripe for a burn even then and now, two decades later and with the added fuel from beetle killed trees, I can only imagine how volatile it is.
On the positive side, if they can manage the fire with no loss of homes or lives it will end up as a great habitat enhancement project.