Posts Tagged ‘okanagan fire’

Just when we thought it was over

August 3, 2009

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.


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.