For Immediate Release
August 24, 2003
11:00 AM

Ministry of Forests

Okanagan mountain park fire update

KELOWNA – The Okanagan Mountain Park fire is estimated to be 19,600 hectares in size, resources in place include 330 fire-fighters, of which 150 are military personnel, 17 helicopters and 140 pieces of heavy equipment.  In addition air tankers are available to provide support as long as the current favourable weather and smoke conditions prevail.  Heavy smoke does limit the use of air tankers.

The fire still remains very active in the north east sectors, but no significant runs occurred yesterday.  Control lines have been established in this sector and this work is continuing with heavy equipment today.  In these northern sectors, which are in south Kelowna area, both Ministry of Forests and military crews worked along side with the local fire department to extinguish hot spots in subdivisions and around homes.  Helicopter bucketing is being used extensively to support this activity, and air tanker support will continue today to establish retardant lines.  In the southern sectors the fire activity remains stable allowing crews the opportunity to beef up the control lines.

Fire crews will work toward containing the fire, and continue to provide protection for structures and safety of all fire line personnel.  In addition, aggressive mop-up and patrol for the southern sectors remains a priority. The cooperation amongst the agencies remains high and the Incident Commander of the Fire Command team continues to stress safety first for all the crews working on the fire.

Yesterday the winds were lighter than expected, and were generally from the north west.  Today’s weather forecast is sunny with cloudy periods, slightly cooler temperatures, but little humidity.  The winds will be strong enough that there is the potential for aggressive fire behavior during the peak of the burning period in the denser timber types.  Winds are expected to increase again in the afternoon with gusts to 35 kilometers per hour.

We would like to thank the public and communities in the Okanagan for their over-whelming support.  It is appreciated and it does help.  Our thoughts are with those families that will learn about the loss of their homes today.