West Kelowna  

Fire fully contained

The wildfire that took off above the former Ponderosa Golf Course in Peachland Friday afternoon has been fully contained, after fire crews worked through the night to control the blaze.

The fire took off around 2 p.m. in the hills above Peachland, and quickly grew to 1.5 hectares in size.

The BC Wildfire Service used three air tankers, four skimmers and one helicopter, along with the help of the Peachland Fire Department, to attack the Rank 2 fire.

Cooler temperatures overnight assisted the 17 firefighters who overnight.

The fire is now a Rank 1 smouldering ground fire, and as of 11:30 a.m., no air support was needed to help put out the remaining fire.

While the last of the blaze is producing little smoke Saturday morning, Rachel Witt, fire information officer, says residents may see smoke in the area over the next couple days as firefighters work to mop up the rest of the area.


World music hits the stage

People of all ages came out to enjoy the worldly music.

The show kicked off at 6:15 p.m. With Cori Derickson, a Westbank First Nations performer and drummer. Major Mambo, a salsa band, followed at 7 and En Karma closed the show.

The fun continues today with Altrab, Deana Knight and the Hot Club of Mars, Wild Son and ZimbaMoto.

In addition to the shows, there will also be interactive music and culture learning sessions between 4 and 7 p.m. for kids, and the kids at heart.

Flare-ups at Bear Creek

Residents living along Westside Road may have noticed flare-ups from the Bear Creek wildfire on Friday evening.

Fire information officer Rachel Witt says this type of fire behaviour happens after a blaze this size — the Bear Creek wildfire was estimated at an almost 53 hectares.

There are currently 45 firefighters with BC Wildfire Management on site dealing with hot spots.

The blaze is 100 per cent contained; although evening winds did pick up in the afternoon which may have caused some smaller trees to candle.

Witt says cooler temperatures are expected throughout the night and into Saturday which will assist crews with building a hand guard around the affected area.


Fire above Peachland

UPDATE: 8:03 p.m.

BC Wildfire crews are working to establish containment on the blaze above the former Ponderosa Golf Course.

Air support is now grounded for the night.

Fire information officer Rachel Witt says 24 firefighters will remain on site overnight to put out hot spots.

While the wind did contribute to some flare-ups throughout the evening the fire is still considered a rank 2 blaze.

Cooler temperatures are expected overnight and into tomorrow which will assist firefighters in controlling the flames.

There is no plan to evacuate nearby homes as no structures are threatened.

UPDATE: 5:45 p.m.

The B.C. Wildfire service is preparing to take control of the Peachland blaze and release the local firefighters.

Fire Chief Dennis Craig says forestry is making good progress on the blaze which is moving away from town.

“The smoke has dissipated quite a bit and the wind is dying down. The air tankers have dropped lots of water on the fire,” explained Craig.

He says crews are digging a hand guard around the fire, although it is not yet contained.  

No structures are threatened by the flames.

UPDATE: 5 p.m.

The fire burning above the former Ponderosa Golf Course is now an estimated 1.5 hectares in size.

There are currently 24 firefighters from the B.C. Wildfire Service on site along with Peachland crews.

Fire information officer Rachel Witt says there are four skimmers on route to the area to assist three air tankers and a helicopter.

“They will remain on site until it’s dark and no longer safe for them to fly,” she explained.

The blaze is considered a rank 2 fire at this time. No structures are immediately threatened.

UPDATE 3:50 p.m.

Numerous air and ground crews continue to work to get a handle on a wildfire burning above the old Ponderosa Golf Course in Peachland.

The fire broke out about 2 p.m. this afternoon.

The fire was reported as 80 x 80 in size shortly before 3 p.m. Peachland Fire Chief Dennis Craig said he doesn't have an exact size, but believes it has grown a bit.

The first is displaying Rank 2 behaviour.

Firefighters from Peachland are working alongside three crews from the BC Wildfire Service. Air tankers are dropping retardant on the blaze. Helicopters are also on scene.

Craig said tankers are attempting to get a guard around the fire while his crews work to get a hose line into the fire.

No structures are threatened at this time.

UPDATE 2:45 p.m.

Peachland firefighters and crews from the province are battling a wildfire in the hills above Peachland.

Peachland Fire Chief Dennis Craig said the blaze is about 80x80 feet in size above the former Ponderosa Golf Course.

Craig said it is still just a ground fire. It has not yet got up into any trees.

No structures are being threatened by the fire.

Seven firefighters from Peachland are at the scene. The BC Wildfire Service has sent a team of six firefighters along with a helicopter and two tankers.

ORIGINAL: 2 p.m.

A small fire is burning in the hills above Peachland.

Calls came in to the Peachland Fire Department shortly before 2 p.m. this afternoon as smoke began to waft from the hills near the old Ponderosa Golf Course.

Pictures into Castanet show a light plume of smoke coming from the area.

More details when they become available.

Send pictures, video to [email protected]

Woman falls from horse

UPDATE: 7:15 p.m.

PENSAR has been called in to assist crews evacuate the injured woman from the area.

The Penticton team are equipped with a Human External Transport System.

Dwayne Tresnich with COSAR says the woman is in stable condition but is suffering from serious injuries.

As Peachland fire crews were dealing with a blaze above Ponderosa Golf Course, firefighters were called out to another incident less than 10 kilometres away.

A woman had fallen off of her horse while riding off of Sanderson Avenue near McCall Lakes.

Central Okanagan Search and Rescue were called in to help find the woman, along with BC Ambulance and RCMP.

Dwayne Tresnich with COSAR says they found the woman about 6 p.m.

“The smoke was drifting over into the area we were in and it would have made the search very difficult had we not located her as it became dark,” Tresnich explained.

The extent of the woman’s injuries are not known.

She was riding alone in the area before she fell.

Penticton Search and Rescue was also put on stand-by to assist; however they were not needed.

Campground back in biz

It didn't take long for Bear Creek provincial Park campground to reopen.

According to officials, parks crews worked feverishly the last couple of days to get the campground ready to welcome back guests.

Heavy winds prior to the start of the Bear Creek wildfire Sunday evening knocked down numerous trees within the campground.

Many more came down after the campground was evacuated.

The entire 122-unit campsite reopened Wednesday at 3 p.m.

The campground was evacuated late Sunday evening, soon after the blaze started.

While some have cancelled their reservations, presumably due to the fire, many others have returned to continue their stay.

Officials said there were four spots available shortly before noon Thursday. They are fully booked for the weekend.

The Bear Creek wildfire forced the evacuation of about 105 properties in the Traders Cove subdivision, along with the campground. Another 65 properties were on evacuation alert at the height of the fire.

Those who were evacuated were allowed to return home Wednesday afternoon.

Yes signs vandalized

Are things getting nasty in the Yes vs. No campaigns leading up to a referendum on a new city hall in West Kelowna?

Peter Wannop, co-chair of the 'Yes to the Civic Centre Committee" won't point any fingers, but says signs erected by the group around West Kelowna have been either vandalized or have gone missing.

The political campaign-style signs have been up for a few weeks in the city.

Wannop acknowledged one or two signs were damaged by the massive windstorm Sunday night, but said wind damage and vandalism are two different things.

"But, there was definitely some signs removed, because the wood was gone, and that heavy lumber doesn't fly through the air really well," said Wannop.

"We've put a report in with the RCMP to let them know what we've lost. It's five or six different locations. Then another one went missing late Tuesday evening."

Wannop said they put up about 25 of the larger four foot by four foot signs and many more of the metal framed bag signs.

"One of the guys said he put out five of them (bag signs), and went out the next day and four of them were gone.

"So, we're a little disappointed. We don't know who's doing it, we don't want to point any fingers, but we know it is against the law."

A city-wide referendum to determine whether the city will be permitted to borrow up to $7.7 million to construct a new city hall as part of a larger civic centre complex, will be held Sept. 17.

Water advisory lifted

A water-quality advisory issued Tuesday following the Bear Creek fire has been lifted.

The advisory affected more than 530 properties in Killiney Beach and Westshore Estates. 

“The lifting of the precautionary advisory this morning by the Regional District of Central Okangan was made in consultation with Interior Health,” explains communications officer Bruce Smith.

The advisory affected properties connected to the two separate community water systems servicing subdivisions off Westside Road.

The advisory was recommended on Monday as a result of the power outages and reservoir drawdown affecting the two water utilities.

“With the restoration of regular electrical service, the water quality advisory has been removed. We thank all our customers for their patience and understanding during this period. The health risk for certain people including the elderly, children and those with weakened immune systems was modest which is why the precautionary advisory was brought in,” adds Smith.

Face to face with fire

West Kelowna fire crews were already battling several issues throughout the city Sunday night when the call came for a wildfire that had sparked near Bear Creek Provincial Park.

Assistant Fire Chief Darren Lee was attending a home that a large tree had fallen on after strong winds picked up across the Okanagan valley. While Assistant Fire Chief Brent Watson was dealing with an elevator rescue and a houseboat that was tipping over into the lake.

Both were brought in to help firefighters from Wilson’s Landing and the North Westside Fire Rescue, to get a handle on the blaze that started just before 10 p.m.

Watson says crews were experiencing extreme fire behaviour by the time he arrived on scene.

“There were multiple structures at threat, literally surrounded by fire,” he said. “At that time I got the call to make another attempt through this 'blow-up' if you will. I made it through, it was super hot, no visibility at all.”

Just as Watson made it through to the north side of the fire, a large cedar hedge came crashing down behind him.

Lee says his biggest concern for the firefighters was the threat of a power pole burning or a power line falling.

“I could see we were going to get pushed out by the fire, which is a new experience for me,” said Lee. “I have had great training, great experience around the Okanagan, the province and in the U.S., but I have never been pushed out into a safe place that is basically fuel free, and actually stop firefighting until the fire did its thing.”

Watson describes the fire as very intense, as the embers showered down in the night onto the crews.

“The reality is though, it was great team work, a really great effort by Wilson’s Landing, North Westside, by Peachland, by Kelowna, all of the departments that responded. It really shows how the region pulls together to work on these things.”

More than 100 homes were evacuated along with campers from Bear Creek Provincial Park and Lee credits Wilson’s Landing and North Westside firefighters for their effort in handling the evacuation.

“They just didn’t quit all night.”

The BC Wildfire Service was also called into assist with the blaze.

Currently the Bear Creek wildfire is in mop up stages and all evacuation orders and alerts have been lifted.

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