The upper portion of Knox Mountain Park Drive will be closed as of Thursday as wildfire season kicks into high-gear in the Central Okanagan.
Tuesday saw a forest fire start and wrap up before noon as residents in rural Glenmore noticed a spot burning on a knoll behind Scenic Road. The day continued with a blaze below Greata Ranch en route to Summerland from Peachland—both are suspected to have human causes.
“We had 10 personnel on site today (at Greata Ranch),” said Melissa Welsh, fire information officer with the Wildfire Management Branch, who characterized it as a “smoldering ground fire” when she spoke with the Capital News this evening.
Called in at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, the fire reached 0.9 hectares in size and required 15 wildfire firefighters working through to midnight to extinguish.
The Central Okanagan Regional District and City of Kelowna began tightening the reins this morning, shutting down potential fire hazards by banning campfires and closing off a section of Knox Mountain to vehicular traffic.
The upper gate on Knox Mountain Park Drive will now be closed until conditions improve; the mountain remains open up to the first lookout for motorized vehicles and those hoping to enjoy the popular recreational area are still welcome walk or bike the entire park.
As of Thursday morning, a campfire ban goes into effect throughout the Central Okanagan, according to a bulletin issued by the Central Okanagan Regional District. The ban falls in line with actions taken to the immediate north in the Quesnel-Chilcotin/Central Cariboo fire region and on Vancouver Island via the Coastal Fire Centre.
The ban extends to the City of Kelowna, District of West Kelowna, District of Lake Country and the Central Okangan East and West Electoral Areas.
The use of fireworks is also banned in these areas at all times and campfires are never permitted in the City of Kelowna.
The Knox Mountain Drive road closure will remain in effect for the long weekend. City staff will monitor the situation and reopen road access as soon as it is safe to do so.
Anyone noticing smoke or fire in any park should immediately call *5-5-5-5, the BC Wildfire Management Branch or 9-1-1 to speak to the fire department.