News

Crews battle Westside wildfire

Kathy Michaels

Black Press

Forest fire crews continue to get a handle on a blaze off Westside Road in West Kelowna.

Forest service fire information officer Michaela Swan said Tuesday that the Wilson’s Landing fire is 75 per cent contained.

“Overnight we were able to get hand guard and control lines 100 per cent around the fire,” said Swan. “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 Monday 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.

The fire 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 tinder-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.

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.

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.

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.

 

 

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