The wildfire fire that took place Friday afternoon in West Kelowna has been deemed accidental. However the ignition source was not able to be conclusively determined by investigators or through statements from residents and bystanders.
“Today was an unfortunate but sobering example of how fast a wildfire can grow – even given today’s cooler conditions and rain earlier in the week,” said West Kelowna Fire Chief, Jason Brolund.
“As we head into the summer season we urge the public to get prepared and exercise extreme caution with any source of ignition. We thank the public today for their cooperation, including early reports of the fire to 9-1-1 and attempts to extinguish it prior to our arrival.”
Helicopters from BC Wildfire services are working the grassfire with West Kelowna Fire Department. Observers say they appear to be dropping both fire retardant and water.
Regional District of Central Okanagan Emergency Services issued the following press release.
Due to a forest fire in the area between Highway 97, Bear Creek Rd, Westlake Rd and Westside Rd, 9 residences on Scott Cres. have been evacuated. These include addresses 1825, 1837, 1849, 1851, 1875, 1887, 1903, 1911 Scott Cres and 1923 Spyglass Way.
Well-trained emergency response crews are currently responding to the situation and dealing with the priorities of the incident.
An evaluation of the situation is underway and specific details will be released as they are confirmed. Public safety and the safety of emergency response personnel are the primary concerns at this time.
The Emergency Operations Centre has been activated to level one. New information will be released to the media as soon as it becomes available.
Emergency response personnel request that the public:
• Avoid the area so emergency responders can effectively perform their duties
• Please only call 911 in case of emergency
• For up-to-date information on the situation, including and to sign up for e-updates, visit cordemergency.ca.
• Information will also be provided via twitter.com/CO_Emerg and facebook.com/CORDEmergency.
The public may call 250-469-8493 for more information.
The main photo above shows where the grass fire may have started, near Nancee Way Court in West Kelowna.
Sharon Ridichuk, a six-year resident of a mobile home park on Nancee Way Court, said she was having coffee with friends in her living room when they saw a lot of people walking by. When they went outside Ridichuk said, “we saw flames.
“It’s a little too close for comfort. We know this is fire season.”
A man who did not want to be identified said he “always” sees people burning things in the ravine below the current fire.
UPDATE: Westside fire fighters getting the best of a grassfire apparently on the steep slope above Katherine Road and below Diamond Estates in West Kelowna.
At 12:20 there were three fire trucks and crews working on the fire from below and two trucks and crews working from Diamond Estates above the grass fire.
The breeze is light at the moment, moving in a northerly direction. There appears to be little tinder material on the ground around the fire location, however not far away there is more flammable material on the ground.
Firefighters applied foam to the ground to slow the fire’s growth.
All paid on-call firefighters have been called in to fill-in at fire stations 31 through 34.
Fire department calling crews to Westside Road in West Kelowna
A grass fire reported initially as 100 by 100 feet in diameter burning.
More to come.