Update (Tuesday, 10 a.m.)
The fire in Wilson’s Landing is now 75 per cent contained.
“Overnight we were able to get hand guard and control lines 100 per cent around the fire,” said Michaela Swan, a forest service fire information officer.
“This morning our main goal will be reinforcing those hand guards with hose lay (to) get water to the fire.”
According to Swan, crews experienced strong downslope winds of up to 20 km/h last night; however, the fire “remains calm and within the guard.”
Four helicopters and 70 firefighters are currently on site attempting to fully contain the 27-hectare blaze.
Story in July 31 Capital News
Fire crews have been battling back the blaze in Wilson’s Landing for several days, and they’re not expected to get a reprieve soon with challenging weather on the horizon.
“The forecast calls for continued hot and dry weather, and the wind is expected to pick up,” said Michaela Swan, a forest service fire information officer, shortly before press deadline Monday.
It’s those very conditions that caused the fire to change in status so rapidly. It was sparked by lightning on Friday night but was declared contained by noon on Sunday.
A steady breeze increased “fire behaviour” throughout the night, said Swan, and that kicked debris downhill, across tinter-dry land and past a fire line crews initially set up.
By Monday morning it had doubled in size and an evacuation alert was issued to 40 to 50 homes in the Jenny Creek subdivision, as well as those along Blue Grouse Road, Browse Road and parts of Westside Road, all in the Wilson’s Landing area of West Kelowna.
Even Westside Road was closed for much of Monday, but that re-opened by day’s end when the fire was mapped at 26.6 hectares and listed as 20 per cent contained, thanks to a gargantuan effort.
“We have 70 firefighters being assisted by five helicopters as well as three air support tankers,” said Swan.
It’s an effort those just outside the fire line were appreciative of.
Keith Thom, executive director of Camp Owaissi, said he’s just 100 yards outside the evacuation boundary and he’s watched fire crews working feverishly all morning.
It’s given him the confidence to go along with his business with little ado, other than the fact that camp was postponed for one day.
“Currently there’s no risk,” he said, noting he could see the flames as he went about his duties at the campsite.
This is the first big blaze of the Okanagan summer, and is far smaller than the 2009 and 2003 fires that caused mass evacuations.
Although 30 C-plus weather for the last week has dried the ground out considerably, it was a wet lead-in to summer and the average of fires provincewide is down.
There have been 663 fires since April and the fires have consumed about 16,000 hectares of land.
The 10-year average is 1,337.