For Immediate Release
August 29, 2003
11:00 AM

Ministry of Forests


dry conditions result in travel restriction

KELOWNA – The Okanagan Mountain Park fire is estimated to be 20,100 hectares in size.  Resources in place include 650 fire-fighters, of which 350 are military personnel, 17 helicopters and 260 pieces of heavy equipment.

The fire is estimated to be 70% contained.  Fire fighters have been taking full advantage of the favourable weather conditions over the past few days and have made good progress establishing new and reinforcing existing control lines.

Some burning off may occur today along the eastern flanks to strengthen and secure the control lines.  Kelowna residents may see an increase in smoke as a result of this activity.  Burning off, which is an important tool in the fire fighting effort, will only occur only if both the weather and terrain conditions are favourable.

There is still the possibility for significant fire activity and movement as a result of the extremely dry conditions.  Increasing temperatures in the afternoon can result in a change in weather conditions later in the day.

Fire crews will be here for weeks to come working to contain and mop up this fire.  The massive effort and hard work has not ended.  Due to the length of time needed to fight the fire, there can be a fluctuation in the fire line resources as crews are relieved or moved as priorities change.

The Vaseux fire is estimated to be 3,200 hectares; resources include 225 fire fighters, seven helicopters and 86 pieces of heavy equipment.

The fire is estimated to be 30% contained, the priority for the crews is to establish control lines around the entire fire.

Afternoon winds resulted in an increase in fire activity.  All control lines held even with the intense fire activity along the southern and eastern flanks, and along the Dutton-Vaseux ridge.

Road closures remain in effect, and security is posted at the sites for public safety.  Only authorized access will be permitted.

Weather conditions continue to be sunny and hot with light winds and no chance of rain.

As of noon today a backcountry travel restriction comes into effect and will remain in effect until September 14, 2003, but may be extended if the extreme fire danger continues.  The southern third of the province is affected by this restriction; a map of the affected area is available on the Ministry of Forests’ Web site.

The travel restriction has been issued for two reasons: to reduce the number of human-caused fires and to ensure the safety of the recreating public in highly flammable areas.

The restriction means that all Crown land and Forest Service roads in the restricted area are closed to the public.  The restriction covers anyone who uses the backcountry for business or recreations, such as loggers, hunters and campers.