UPDATE: Fire burning in Okanagan Mountain park

BC Wildfire is aware of the fire and is handling it with a “modified” response

Update: 3:08 p.m.

Expect to see smoke rising from the mountainside across the lake from Peachland for the next three to five weeks.

BC Wildfire Service held a press conference Monday, explaining they were taking a different approach to the fire that started at Okanagan Mountain Park Sunday night and it is less about suppression and more about fuel management.

BC Wildfire officer Dave Bojahra explained that as it burns it will clean up some of the dead and dry fuel on the forest floor, but it’s not likely to threaten the community due to the topography and weather.

“Right now, the nearest structure to this fire is five kilometres away, we’d need to see large growth in this fire before we’d be concerned and really we don’t see that on the horizon given the time of year,” said Bojahra.

“It would have to travel three to four kilometres before we’d consider changing our tack and, honestly, if we thought it would go that far we wouldn’t be doing this right now.”

That said, he can understand public concern.

“For a lot of people this brings back memories of 2003, of a fire that started not far from this location and it really impacted a lot of people’s lives … but this is a very different situation,” he said.

“We ask that (the public) do trust in us, we are aware of the fuel conditions… we looked closely.”

The fire, which was started in an area known to be an unauthorized boat campsite, was human caused and will likely burn for three to five weeks at the most. A heavy rainfall is expected to put it out.

The clearer forest floor will make it less of a hazard when the fire risk is high next summer.

Watch the press conference below:

Update: 11:42 a.m.

Peachland residents should expect to see more smoke rising from the fire across the lake at Okanagan Mountain Park as the day wears on.

The one-hectare fire, which is two kilometres north of Rattlesnake Island on the east shore of Okanagan Lake, is a a Rank one or two, according to BC Wildfire Management crews, and not a threat to any structures. As such, they’re not quite hitting it the way most area residents are used to seeing.

“Right now our operations teams are working with local land managers, like BC Parks, to determine what our response to this will be,” said Justine Hunse, with BC Wildfire Management. “The response people are most familiar with is a full response — sending resources with the end goal of full suppression. However there are some circumstances where we have a moderate or modified response.”

This may be one of those circumstances, and if that’s the case they will merely establish a boundary for it to burn and apply indirect tactics to keep it hemmed in.

Ultimately, explained Hunse, fire can be good for the overall health of the forest.

ORIGINAL: Monday, Oct. 2, 6 a.m.

Peachlanders woke up to a view of flames across the lake Monday, in Okanagan Mountain Park.

BC Wildfire is aware of the fire and are assessing the situation.

The flames don’t appear to be moving rapidly.

We’ll update later when we learn more.

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