Okanagan Mountain Fire Watch

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Updated: 12:15 pm


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Fire Fighters: 400   Fire Size: 25,600  Containment: 95%


Four Regional Parks Open Again (September  17 - 12:15 pm)          
The “Closed Due To Extreme Fire Hazard” signs have come down at two more Regional Parks.  After checking trails and public areas for safety hazards, Parks crews have given the green light to re-open Mill Creek Regional Park and the Woodhaven Nature Conservancy.  Yesterday afternoon, Mission Creek and Kalamoir Regional Parks were deemed safe for public access.

More favorable weather conditions have resulted in the opening of four of the Regional Parks that were closed over the summer because of the extreme fire danger.  In all, ten Regional Parks were completely closed and two others were partially closed.

Parks staff hopes to complete their hazard risk inspections of the other six closed parks by late today and expect that the “Closed Due To Extreme Fire Hazard” signs will be taken down.

Once a park is open again, people are asked to use extreme caution and should stay on trails.  Please don’t smoke in natural areas and if you do smoke, please ensure all smoking materials have been completely extinguished and safely discarded. 

Two Regional Parks will remain closed indefinitely because of damage sustained by the Okanagan Mountain Park fire.  Both Bertram Creek and Cedar Mountain contain many hazards and are considered unsafe.  Full Press Release.

Forest Fire Review to be Conducted (September  17 - 9:00 am)
An examination of all fire fighting efforts is performed every year by the B.C. Ministry of Forests.  They review decisions and observations related to each fire and try to assess what worked, didn't work, and could be done better.    Local Emergency Operations staff will also go through a similar debrief.    

Two Regional Parks Re-opened  (September  16 - 5:51 pm)          
CORD PRESS RELEASE - More favorable weather conditions have resulted in the opening of two Regional Parks that were closed over the summer because of the threat of fire.  The extreme fire hazard forced the complete closure of ten Regional Parks, and the partial closure of two others.

As of this afternoon, Mission Creek Regional Park is completely open as is Kalamoir Park on the Westside.

This morning, Parks staff started the task of going through each park, conducting a risk inspection.  As some of the parks have been closed for almost two months, staff are checking trails and removing any safety hazards like fallen branches and trees, hanging branches and pruning any overgrowth.  Once the area surrounding the trails is considered safe, the park will be open again for public use.   Information on the status of each park will be relayed via the local media and the Regional District website, www.regionaldistrict.com

The Regional Parks Department thanks residents of the Central Okanagan for their cooperation, patience and understanding over the past two months, while parks were closed.  When a park is open again, people are asked to use extreme caution and should stay on trails.  Please don’t smoke in natural areas and if you do smoke, please ensure all smoking materials have been completely extinguished and safely discarded. 

Two of the parks will remain closed indefinitely because of damage sustained by the Okanagan Mountain Park fire.  Both Bertram Creek and Cedar Mountain contain many hazards and are considered unsafe.  Full Press Release.

Fire Now 95% Contained (September  16 - 5:25 pm)

Ministry of Forestry - The Okanagan Mountain Park fire is estimated to be 25,600 hectares in size, and is now 95% contained. Resources include 400 fire fighters, 7 helicopters and 91 pieces of heavy equipment. The portion of the fire that is not contained is in steep rocky terrain and is difficult to access for ground resources.

Fire fighters are taking advantage of the cool, wet conditions to secure containment lines and mop up hot spots.  Considerable progress has been made over the past few days.  Resource requirements are being evaluated daily and downsizing will continue as the fire threat decreases.

Smoke may be visible deep within the fire perimeter over the coming weeks.  The public must remain assured that the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire will continue to be patrolled and monitored daily and fire fighters will aggressively mop up hot spots as they are detected.

 The Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park and the Myra-Bellevue Protected Area remain closed to the public until further notice.  The public is also reminded to stay clear of active fire fighting operations and avoid travelling any of the fire access roads being used by emergency personnel.  Full Press Release.

Fire News Highlights (September  16 - 8:13 am)

  • It was one month ago today that lightning started the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire.

  • The armed Forces are going home today as cooler temperatures and rain have the fire now 90% contained.

  • Local loggers are now permitted to go back into the forests to resume their operations.

  • 11 senior Forestry personnel  left Kelowna yesterday.

  • The City's fire relief fund has raised $100,000.  $150,00 has been raised by t-shirt sales. The $225,000 Yellow Ribbon Campaign by local media will donate its money to the Central Okanagan Foundation.

  • The insurance industry says it has paid out $200 million so far to BC forest fire victims. 

  • Four City Parks now reopen to the public: Knox Mountain, Dilworth Mountain, Mission Ridge Park and Quail Ridge Park.  Public are asked to stay on the trails and not smoke.  Bertram Creek park will not likely open till spring to to fire damage to structures and trees.

From The Ministry of Forests Incident Commander (September  15 - 8:34 am)

September 14, 2003

An open letter to the people of Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley:

On behalf of the British Columbia Ministry of Forests and all who have worked on the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire, I would like to express our sincere gratitude to the people of Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley for your outstanding cooperation and generous support during the recent forest fire situation.

The overwhelming support during this time is not only very much appreciated, but has been tremendously uplifting during a very stressful and difficult time.  The endless donations, extreme patience, kind words of encouragement and all of the personal message signs posted throughout the area are truly motivating.  For this we are extremely grateful.

The resiliency of the Okanagan communities is reflected by all of the people that have gone out of their way to ensure that everyone remains safe, the needs of the community are met and the day to day fire operations continued uninterrupted.  You should be proud of your accomplishments, particularly your strong commitment to the community at large.

Again, a sincere heartfelt thank you from all of us that have worked on the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire.

Yours truly,

Brian Kempf
Incident Commander
Okanagan Mountain Park Fire

Click here for the full letter in its original form.

Provincewide State of Emergency Lifted (September  15 - 8:10 am)
Premier Gordon Campbell lifted a province wide state of emergency on Sunday due to  rain The state of emergency had been in place since Aug. 2. The province will now complete a damage assessment.

A millimetre of rain fell on Sunday helping fire crews in the Myra and Bellevue canyons. The rainfall makes flare-ups unlikely, soaking down the forest fuels.

Weekend Fire Update (September  14 - 9:40 am)
As of Saturday, the Okanagan Mountain Park fire is considered to be 90% contained. The fire is described as smoldering and not very active.  The rain overnight and today should continue to help. 575 forest fighters and 10 Helicopters remain fighting the blaze.  The only major Evacuation Alert left in the province is near the Sun Peaks resort near Kamloops.

The Okanagan Fire Recovery Center (520 Bernard Avenue  (next to the old Royal Bank building) has new hours effective Monday:
8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday to Friday
8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Saturday

Evacuation Alerts Lifted (September  12 - 3:23 pm)
All Evacuation Alerts in place due to the Okanagan Mountain Park fire were rescinded this afternoon, Friday September 12th, by the Office of the B.C. Fire Commissioner.

The fire poses no imminent danger to residential neighbourhoods.

All areas within the City of Kelowna and the Regional District of the Central Okanagan, including the Idabel Lake area in the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, have been declared “all clear”.

Approximately 18,000 people had been on Evacuation Alert.

Plans are underway to de-activate the Emergency Operations Centre on Monday September 15th. 
EOC Press Release.


Backcountry Travel Ban Lifted (September  12 - 3:23 pm)
Ministry of Forests - Cooling temperatures and rain have allowed ministry officials to re-open the province to backcountry travel, effective midnight tonight.

However, the province-wide state of emergency remains in effect and wild fires continue to be an ongoing threat in many parts of province. There are still 700 active fires in the province. British Columbians should exercise extreme caution and only venture into the backcountry if absolutely necessary.

Should conditions change, including significant new human-caused fire starts, the backcountry travel ban can be re-imposed.

Some provincial parks and protected areas, including Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park and Myra-Bellevue Protected Area remain closed until further notice. Specific park and protected area closures, campfire bans and other restriction information can be obtained from park facility operators or the B.C. Parks Web site at www.bcparks.ca.

The public is reminded to report wildfires by calling 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 on most cellular networks. To report any suspicious activity, please call the above number or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

A reward of up to $50,000 is offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone involved in deliberately setting wildfires. Arson is a criminal offence and is punishable by significant fines and/or imprisonment.

For more information on the local Forest Service restrictions, closures and campfire bans, see the Ministry of Forests Protection Branch Web site at http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/protect/ or contact the local forest district office. For tourism information, contact 1-800-hellobc.
Full Press Release.

Fire Remains Stable Despite Evening Winds  (September  12 - 6:53 am)
The fire remained stable over night despite wind gusts last night.  At 9 pm gusts up to 50 km/h with scattered rain hit the Kelowna area.  The wind gusts actually allowed fire fighters to see where they should tackle some of the hot spots. Isolated power outages (Rowcliffe Ave and Gastton) and tree damage was reported but no growth to the fire.  Theer was a power outage at Reid's corner intersection and nearby businesses.

Fire crews have made good progress on the fire in recent days - encircling it with containment lines.  The fire has not challenged or breached containment lines.  The fire is still estimated to be 80% contained and 18,360 residents remain on Evacuation Alert.

No News Is Good News September  11 - 7:27 pm
We have had a number of emails in the past few days with similar themes.  We thought we would share these answers with everyone.  Here's a quick summary of our most frequently asked questions.

Why aren't you publishing more thermal maps of the fire?
We get the thermal maps directly from AWIS who is a contractor to the Ministry of Forestry. The maps are only produced when Forestry feels that there have been significant changes in the fire to justify their cost.  These maps are done by special plane flights - not by satellite.  The fact there have been no new maps for the last few days is a good sign that fire has not progressed.

How come there aren't as many updates on the fire on Castanet?
There has been very little too report in the past few days because of the cooler temperatures and rain.  The fire has not grown significantly.  Accordingly the Emergency Operations Center and the Ministry of Forests have less information to share than what they had previously.  We here at Castanet are still following the fire closely.  If there are any major developments rest assured - you can count on us to post them here.  But as fire activity trials off - so does our coverage.  This a another good sign!

I'm from out of town, where can I buy a fire t-shirt?
We have set-up a special web page to update you on the availability of t-shirts, hats, posters, CD's and other fundraising efforts associated with the fire.  Link.  There will be some t-shirts available at the Burnaby Costco this weekend (see t-shirt page for details).  And the
KVR Passport Company will be offering Myra Canyon Trestle t-shirts for sale online.  Be aware that the volunteer fire fighters and RCMP are behind the selling of the most popular shirts.  They are understandably still focused on the task at hand with the fire.  If we become aware of shirt sells outside Kelowna, you can count on us posting them here!

Boil Water Advisories Lifted September 11 - 2:40 pm
As of September 11, 2003 the Water Boil Advisories for the Black Mountain Irrigation and South East Kelowna Irrigation Districts has been lifted.

Test results done by the water utilities and the Interior Health Authorities show the water meets public health requirements and is safe to drink.

BMID and SEKID regret any inconvenience to our customers and thank you for your patience during this water boil advisory.

Fire Clears Myra Canyon - Remaining Trestles Safe September 11 - 7:05 am
Mayor Gray - The fire has now cleared Myra Canyon - so it is unlikely that other Trestles will be destroyed.  The original plans for trestles still exist to aid in rebuilding.  Only four wooden trestles remain 1, 12, 16, 17.  The wood decks on the metal trestles 6 and 8 have been burned off. See maps for trestle placement. (Map 1 JPG 42K) (Map 2 GIF 87K)  See also our photo gallery for original trestle pictures and trestles as they stand now.  Click here to donate to the trestle restoration online. 

Recovery Trust Fund Donations Can Specify Trestle Redevelopment (September  10 - 4:48 pm)
The Kelowna and Area Okanagan Fire Recovery Society has recognized the community's will to re-build the twelve historic trestles of the Kettle Valley Railway, destroyed as the Okanagan Mountain Park fire swept through Myra Canyon. Donors may now specify that their contributions to the Kelowna and Area Fire Recovery Trust Fund should be directed toward trestle redevelopment.

Donations may be made online at kvr.acromedia.ca or via www.city.kelowna.bc.ca  Donations may also be sent to the City of Kelowna, 1435 Water Street, Kelowna B.C. V1Y 1J4. Cheques should be made payable to the "City of Kelowna Fire Recovery Fund" and should specify that the donation is for the "Myra Canyon Trestle Restoration Fund".

The Federal Government of Canada, the Province of British Columbia, the Central Okanagan Regional District, the City of Kelowna and the Myra Canyon Trestle Restoration Society, as well as many national and local organizations, have acknowledged the need to rebuild. Once the fire in Myra Canyon is extinguished a site assessment will be conducted to determine the steps involved in reconstruction. The reconstruction effort will be a large one involving many levels of government, the private sector and the community. To kick start the project initial funding for the site assessment will be provided by the Province of British Columbia and the Government of Canada.

The Kettle Valley Railway is one of the most important heritage and recreational assets in the Central Okanagan. The pioneering spirit that built the world famous Myra Canyon trestles will once again be demonstrated through community goodwill and leadership.

General donations toward the Recovery Trust Fund are also gratefully accepted. The monies will be used to assist in rebuilding lives and the community. The Recovery Society is in the process of identifying needs and projects that may be eligible to receive funds. Donations can be made at any Scotiabank branch in Canada to account number 80150-00058-19, or through the internet or by mail, as above.  Press release.

Missed something?  Visit our archive of past stories.


Continuous Web Coverage

News tips: [email protected]
Comments: [email protected]

Purina pet foods has donated a skid of pet food for evacuated and/or displaced pets. The food has been sent to the SPCA and those in need can pick up a bag there. (September  17 - 9:25 am)  

Fire Storm Ball Caps can be picked up today for those who have prepaid or pre-ordered the hats.  They can be picked up at Kelowna Memorial Arena in the public skating room from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. They'll be available there until Friday.Anyone who wants to order a hat for future delivery can prepay at the RCMP detachment on Doyle Avenue, Monday to Thursday, 9 a.m.-l p.m. The hats will only be available until the end of September. (September  17 - 9:00 am)  

The Armed Forces have now been released from fire duty and will be going home tomorrow.  At the peak there were 2,000 soldiers here helping fight the blaze. (September  15 - 3:02 pm)  

The volunteer fire fighter t-shirts, in addition to being available at Costco on weekends, are also available Tuesdays at London Drugs and Wednesdays at Wal-Mart. (September  15 - 12:57 pm)  

There are now 8 helicopters, 100 pieces of heavy equipment and 400 firefighters working the fire.  The number of fire fighters is expected to drop to 200 on Wednesday.  There are now fire fighters in all areas fighting the fire including Myra and Bellevue canyons.  (September  15 - 12:55 pm)  

Limited quantities and sizes of Firestorm shirts are available at RCMP offices in Lake Country, Rutland, Mission and Westbank.  They are also available at all Little Caesars Pizza locations, Art Knapps in Penticton, Canadian Tire in Kelowna, The Jammery, A View to Remember B&B in Lakeview Heights and Perks coffee shop. Proceeds are split by the Kelowna SPCA, the Kelowna Food Bank, the Salvation Army and uninsured homeowners whose houses were destroyed in the fire. Pre-paid and pre-ordered T-shirts are available for pickup in the Kelowna Memorial Arena's skating room (Ellis Street entrance) today, Tuesday and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
(September  15 - 8:20 am)

The Premier  entered into three agreements with the US to strengthening cross-border wild fire management and co-operation on environmental issues.  Press Release. (September  15 - 8:20 am)

Fire crew are doing mop up runs around the perimeter of the fire.  Fire officials feel that the back of the fire has now been broken with the cooler temperatures  the rain.  The 10% of the fire not contained is in the Myra and Bellevue canyons.  The fire may not be out there until winter.  (September  15 - 8:18 am)

Lake Country still maintains a back country travel ban.  It is expected to be lifted at the Tuesday evening Council meeting. (September  15 - 8:10 am)

About 535 firefighters (280 soldiers) are on the fire lines. Eight helicopters and 106 pieces of heavy equipment are being used. (September  15 - 8:10 am)

McClure fire fully contained. September  14 - 3:00 pm

There are two more contributions in our fire reflections area.
September  14 - 11:27 am

DT wants to recognize the communities rebuilding spirit and is donating the sales of 1000 "Time to Believe" CD's to the to re-build the twelve historic trestles of the Kettle Valley Railway. He says donors may now specify that their contributions to the Kelowna and Area Fire Recovery Trust Fund should be directed toward trestle redevelopment. The CD's are available now at the Kelowna Wal-Mart and the Kelowna Canadian Tire.  September  13 - 8:41 am

House inspectors are urging people in fire affected areas not to return home too soon due to hazardous residual smoke inside their homes. They suggest that the outdoors clear of smoke firs before you consider having the inside cleaned of smoke. September  12 - 12:04 pm

100 more troops are joining the mop up efforts of the fire today.  September  12 - 12:00 pm

Fire fighters are finally beginning to wind down from adrenaline high from the past 4 weeks.  Sun Peaks Residents were able to return home yesterday.  September  12 - 9:31 pm

It snowed at Big White briefly last night around  9:45 pm. Snow fell on the fires eastern flank.  September  12 - 7:52 pm

600 fire fighters and 12 helicopters are still working the fire. September  11 - 5:16 pm

Castanet's Kelly Hayes took pictures of fire fighters today up at KVR Trestle #1.  Trestle #1 has a sprinkler system on it and a fire retardant line around it. Link September  11 - 3:26 pm

Hector Turner has produced these interested animated thermal maps showing the growth and progress of the fire.  Small (GIF 388K) Large (GIF 1MB).  September  11 - 3:14 pm

The Thermoguys have release some interesting thermal pictures of the water bombers in action(PDF 632K) or their web site. September  11 - 1:02 pm

The Buddhist Compassion Relief Society has donated one million dollars to fire relief efforts.  September  11 - 8:30 am

The KVR Passport Company from Beaverdell are now offering Myra Canyon Trestles t-shirts depicting the water bombing by the Martin Mars Bomber, with the net proceeds going to the Myra Canyon Trestle restoration project.  They will be sold this weekend - Sept 13 & 14, at the Rock Creek fall fair.  They can also be ordered on- line at their web site http://www.kvrbiketrailpassport.com after Sept.11.03. The price is $ 15.00 plus taxes.  September  11 - 7:26 am

BC Government - Rich Coleman - Forest fires total bill could be $500 million. September  10 - 4:21 pm

We now have pictures available from a media tour today inside an air tanker. September  10 - 4:21 pm


Important Phone Numbers

Public Information Line 868-2632

Recovery Social Services & Housing 868-2605

Accommodation (PRC) 763-9276

Family Reunification (PRC) 763-4872

Report a Fire
1-800-663-5555 or *5555 on your cell to Forestry Officials

Red Cross Assistance 763-1859 ext. 215

Check the status of loved ones 1-888-350-6070

Provincial Emergency Information Line 1-800-311-7044

Terasen Gas 1-877-711-8877

Black Mountain Irrigation District 765-5169

Wildlife problem 1-800-663-9453

Ambulance  860-0054 if 911 is busy



Donate Online, by Phone, at Bank

Red Cross 1-800-418-1111  (Funds Use Note)
Salvation Army 1-800-SAL ARMY
Myra Canyon Trestle Restoration
Acro Media Salvation Army Donation

Okanagan Fire Recovery Trust Fund - Any Scotiabank branch in Canada to account number 80150-00058-19.  See press release for more information.

Myra Canyon Trestle Restoration Fund: Please make a cheque payable to "The City of Kelowna" and indicate "Myra Canyon Trestle Restoration" in the memo area.  Mail or drop off the cheque to 1435 Water Street Kelowna BC V1Y 1J4. You can also donate online.

The Central Okanagan Foundation
has a fire relief fund.  See full press release.




Current Evacuation Alert & Orders

All Evacuation Alerts in place due to the Okanagan Mountain Park fire were rescinded  Friday September 12th, by the Office of the B.C. Fire Commissioner.  EOC Press Release.

The backcountry travel restriction is rescinded effective midnight tonight. Full Press Release.



Agency Links

City of Kelowna Fire News
Interior Health
Provincial Emergency Program
CORD Regional Emergency Plan
BC Forests Wild Fires
RCMP News Releases
Kelowna Weather
Air Quality Index

Find your water provider  Black Mountain Irrigation
Federal Disaster Relief
Terasen Gas
Highway Report
DND - Operation Peregrine




AWIS Thermal Maps:
Okanagan Mountain Park
  (JPG 1.2MB) (PDF 2.0MB)
(Sept 8 - 1 am)
  Vaseux Lake
       (JPG 966K) (PDF 2.7MB)  
(Sept  2)

        AWIS Thermal Maps Archive

Time lapse AWIS Thermal Maps Small (GIF 388K) Large (GIF 1MB). 

Local close up thermal images Link

Kettle Valley Railway Map (Map 1 JPG 42K) (Map 2 GIF 87K)

NASA Realtime Satellite Images Pixel size: 1km | 500m | 250m (Sept 2)  Main Site Link   See also Link.

Map of Kelowna Link 1, Link 2, Link 3

Idabel Lake & Area  Map 1, Map 2, Map 3 

Virtual Tour of Fire Affected Areas

Incomplete Map of Fire Damaged Areas Aug 24 (PDF 322K)

Map of re-entry stages 1 through 7. (PDF 621K)



Okanagan Fire Recovery Centre

520 Bernard Avenue  (next to the old Royal Bank building)

open 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday to Friday
open 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Saturday

• 868-2632

Services in the Okanagan Fire Recovery Centre include:
• Damage assessment
• Agency referral
• Demolition permit information
• Building permit information
• Sewer connection and septic tank permit information



Special thanks to Rackforce who have been turbo powering our site on four load balanced servers on their  multi-homed network. 
We also thank Rackforce and Shaw Cable (Big Pipe) for their generous bandwidth donation
so that we can bring you continuous up to date Internet coverage of the fire.

News tips: [email protected]
Comments: [email protected]