Inside a wildfire: Kelowna-area fire sits at 380 hectares

Inside a wildfire: Kelowna-area fire sits at 380 hectares

Flames began shooting up trees around her, ‘I’ve never been this scared in my life’, said Kelowna hiker

UPDATE: 11 a.m.

A drop in wind and cooler temperatures stopped the spread of the Philpott Road wildfire in Joe Rich.

It’s still out of control, however, and measured at approximately 380 hectares in size, said Justine Hunse from the BC Wildfire Service, just after 10 a.m. Friday.

Joe Rich and surrounding area has been evacuated meaning 1,100 residents from nearly 500 homes, have been sent into the care of friends, family and emergency service workers.

Flames are within one kilometre of the closest home and, said Hunse, local fire departments are “working on implementing structural protection measures.”

The struggle with this fire, now that wind isn’t fanning flames, is the topography.

“The Philpott Road fire is burning in heavily timbered forest in steep terrain, which is a challenge for suppression efforts on the ground,” said Hunse, noting that there are 23 BC Wildfire personnel on site working with local fire departments and there are additional resources being mobilized.

Hunse couldn’t say what direction the fire was currently moving, however she said that it started within the Joe Rich Fire Department coverage area and moved into Crown land very quickly.

The cause has yet to be established and is under investigation.

—-

UPDATE: 9:20 a.m.

Area property owner Jeremy Ford said the blaze began as a spot fire along Highway 33. By the time he had called for help, it was already racing through grass and bush into a heavily treed area.

Ford said he ensured his family was safely out and then remained behind to help others.

“I stayed there until the last minute to help out my neighbours because they have got animals,” said Ford, who added he released the animals from a neighbouring barn just as police ordered him to leave.

“So now the animals have got a chance to live and not be cooped up in a pen in the fire. That’s all we can do.”

Cynthia Row said she was running on trails through the hills above Highway 33 when flames began shooting up trees around her, blocking the path and forcing her to bushwhack downhill toward the highway.

She ran into a wall of fire before she reached the safety of the road, but was able to sidestep the flames.

“I was terrified and now I’m just in shock,” she said.

“I’ve never been this scared in my life. I’ve had encounters with bears. I’ve been lost for days. I’ve been in trouble, and I’ve never experienced anything like this. It was frightening.

“I’m very lucky I got out.”

The BC Wildfire Service said the fire was probably caused by human activity.

About two dozen firefighters, two helicopters and two pieces of heavy equipment worked on it Thursday night. More resources were expected to be assigned.

The wildfire service website showed the blaze was one of about 30 sparked over a 24-hour period. Two of those were also suspected of being caused by humans, but most were linked to lightning storms that moved through the area.

The Canadian Press

—-

ORIGINAL: 6:30 a.m.

The Philpott Road fire in Joe Rich is still out of control.

Justine Hunse, from the BC Wildfire Service, said Friday morning that improved conditions overnight have yet to give crews the upper hand and the fire is still estimated to be 380 hectares.

Yesterday afternoon, and well into the evening, we had grounds crews out there to construct a guard,” Hunse said.

They were assisted by multiple air tankers and helicopters working on fire suppression.

“Of course, we have additional resources being mobilized this morning for both ground crews and air support,” she said.

The Central Okanagan Emergency Support Services has estimated that some 1,100 people are out of their homes due to an evacuation of the area and they aren’t likely to be able to return this morning.

“There were no unexpected challenges overnight for firefighters on the Philpott Road wildfire. Cool overnight conditions and minimal wind kept the fire from progressing. Thick smoke in the area is due to the lack of air movement overnight,” reports CORD Friday Morning.

“Crews from Joe Rich, Ellison, Kelowna, Peachland and Lake Country along with ten other fire departments throughout the interior and the BC Wildfire Service monitored the 380-hectare blaze.”

Hunse said there have yet to be any structures damaged in the blaze, however, the nearest home is one kilometre from the fire.

“The local fire departments have been working to establish guards there,” she said.

The Emergency Support Services reception centre set up at the Willow Park Church, 439 Highway 33 West in Kelowna will open at 10 a.m. this morning to help any people affected by the Evacuation Order.

A decision on the possible opening of Highway 33 is expected later this morning.

“For now, it remains closed from the Gallaghers Road intersection on the City of Kelowna to Big White Road. A detour route is available for non-commercial passenger vehicles for those who must travel via McCulloch Road.”

The next update isn’t expected to be ready until around 8:30 a.m.

For more information go to www.cordemergency.ca.

 

Inside a wildfire: Kelowna-area fire sits at 380 hectares

Just Posted

(File photo from The Canadian Press)
Red Deer down to 66 active COVID-19 cases

Red Deer has lowest number of active cases since last November

Orange shirts, shoes, flowers and messages are displayed on the steps outside the legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Tuesday, June 8, 2021 following a ceremony hosted by the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations in honour of the 215 residential school children whose remains have been discovered buried near the facility in Kamloops, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Alberta city cancels Canada Day fireworks at site of former residential school

City of St. Albert says that the are where the display was planned, is the site of the former Youville Residential School

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Alberta reports 100 new cases of COVID-19

The Central zone sits at 218 active cases

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Red Deer drops to 71 active cases of COVID-19

Province adds 127 new cases of the virus

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Fans watch the warm-up before Game 6 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens in NHL playoff hockey action Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Montreal. Quebec’s easing of COVID-19 restrictions will allow 2,500 fans to attend the game for the first time in fourteen months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Two-thirds of Canadians say governments shouldn’t lift all COVID-19 restrictions

Poll reports Canadians who gained pandemic weight say they have gained 16 pounds on average

Paul Bernardo is shown in this courtroom sketch during Ontario court proceedings via video link in Napanee, Ont., on October 5, 2018. Teen killer and serial rapist Paul Bernardo is set for a parole hearing today. The designated dangerous offender, has been eligible for full parole for more than three years. Bernardo’s horrific crimes in the 1980s and early 1990s include for kidnapping, torturing and killing Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy near St. Catharines, Ont. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Greg Banning
Killer rapist Paul Bernardo faces parole hearing today; victim families opposed

Designated dangerous offender has been eligible for full parole for more than three years.

People look over the damage after a tornado touched down in Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal, Monday, June 21, 2021. Dozens of homes were damaged and one death has been confirmed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
One dead and extensive damage as tornado hits Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal

Damage reported in several parts of the city, and emergency teams dispatched to sectors hardest hit

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

A pair of Alberta residents were arrested after police responded to a report of a woman who had allegedly been assaulted and confined against her will on June 20, 2021. (File photo)
Salmon Arm RCMP arrest 2 Albertans suspected in alleged assault, unlawful confinement

Firearms, stolen items seized including NHL hockey cards believed to be worth thousands

A man makes his way past signage to a mass COVID-19 vaccination centre at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadians encouraged to see mRNA shots as interchangeable as more 2nd doses open up

Doctors urge people not to hesitate if offered Moderna after getting Pfizer for their first shot

Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance sits in the front row during a news conference in Ottawa on June 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Defence committee rises without report on Vance allegations

Committee had been investigating the government’s handling of complaints against former defence chief

Tl’etinqox-lead ceremony at the site of the former St. Joseph’s Mission in Williams Lake, B.C., June 18, 2021. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
‘We are all one people’: Honouring residential school victims and survivors

Love, support and curiousity: Canadians urged to learn about residential schools and their impact

Most Read