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Crews fully contain Joe Rich brush fire

Crews drop fire retardant on the Joe Rich brush fire just north of Highway 33 near Pyman Road Friday afternoon. - Wade Paterson/Capital News
Crews drop fire retardant on the Joe Rich brush fire just north of Highway 33 near Pyman Road Friday afternoon.
— image credit: Wade Paterson/Capital News

It took just over an hour-and-a-half for crews to fully contain a brush fire in Joe Rich Friday afternoon.

At its peak the fire grew to nearly 20 hectares.

The blaze began around 3 p.m. Friday and grew quickly. Forestry fire crews were joined by crews from Ellison, Kelowna and Joe Rich Fire Departments.

By 4:40 p.m. the brush fire was 100 per cent contained and firefighters began mop up work.

"Luckily crews arrived very quickly and went to work along with Forestry. They did a great job," said platoon captain Kelly Stephens of the Kelowna Fire Department.

Stephens, who was in charge of the fire's command centre, said lots of personnel were brought in to deal with the brush fire before the wind could spread it too far.

"We hit it as hard as we could, knowing what we had with this wind and the problems it could've caused."

According to Stephens the cause of the fire, and where it started, are unknown at this time.

Robert Rickard lives about six kilometres away from where the fire burned Friday afternoon. He nervously watched from the side of Highway 33 as firefighters battled the flames.

"We've always been waiting for this day and wondering when it was going to happen," said Rickard.

Cyrous Sharifpour works at Pyman Road gravel pit. He said he saw the smoke from Kelowna and immediately came to warn his co-workers.

"It's really high over there, I thought maybe they (wouldn't) realize there was smoke. I called my boss and said I could see the smoke," said Sharifpour.

Sharifpour drove to the gravel pit and told the workers to move equipment such as propane tanks to the middle of the pit.

"When I came back I was in shock about how much had burned."

Several cars were pulled over on the side of Highway 33 to watch firefighters douse the brush fire.

"We were coming home from picking the kids up from school and we saw a great big plume of smoke over the hill," said Kim Priebe.

"It's been neat just talking with the kids about being responsible when you're out in the bush. It may not be your land, but it's someone else's, and you never know what nature is going to do."

Although the fire was 100 per cent contained at 4:45 p.m. Friday, Fred Felty wasn't taking any chances.

He helped soak down the perimeter of his friend's property, which was metres away from the fire on the south side of Highway 33.

"I think it's kind of a necessity when there's a fire across the way—the wind can change at any point," said Felty.

wpaterson@kelownacapnews.com

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