West Kelowna  

Time lapse of valley smoke

A refresher for those longing for clear skies in the Okanagan.

West Kelowna resident Darin Shaw has captured snapshots of air quality from his property in the middle of summer in each of the past three years.

The clear photo was taken July 29, 2016, while the smokier middle photo was captured Aug. 10, 2017. The bottom photo was snapped on Saturday.

The photos are taken from the Tallus Ridge neighbourhood looking east towards Okanagan Lake, with Shannon Lake in the foreground.

From the clear, blue top photo, a grey haze obstructed the view in the same timeframe last year, cutting off the view of Okanagan Lake in the distance. On Saturday, an eerie smokescreen hampered visibility significantly and put Shannon Lake out of view, which is barely more than one kilometre away.

Shaw says Saturday's haze was the worst he's seen the air quality this year — conditions which were observed up and down the valley. 

The air quality health index was at a 10-plus rating late Saturday evening for the Central, North and South Okanagan due to wildfire smoke. Conditions were projected to drop down to rating of eight on Sunday morning, which is still considered to be a high health risk. 


SD23 seeks ALR relief

School District 23 is hoping to get two pieces of property in Glenrosa taken out of the Agricultural Land Reserve.

The properties are next to two elementary schools, one on Hudson Road the other beside Weber Road Elementary on Inverness Road.

District secretary-treasurer Eileen Sadlowski says part of the property is within the ALR. She says it is simply a housekeeping application.

"If they are in the ALR we're restricted. We can't put a portable on it. We can't make any sort of adaptations to it," Sadlowski told Castanet News.

Signs have gone up on the properties alerting the public to the application.

"We didn't realize it.

"We discovered it when we were talking about moving a bus garage which we have at Hudson Road. We were talking about moving it to the other side."

She says the applications have nothing to do with discussions of expansion on the Westside.

Gottfriedsen alerts rescinded

As crews mop up the Gottfriedsen Mountain wildfire, all evacuation alerts near the fire have now been rescinded.

The alert was in place for more than a week for properties west of the fire, including Pennask Lake Lodge, Hatheume Lake Resort and cabins in the area. 

The Thompson-Nicole Regional District lifted the alerts at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

The fire, located north of the Okanagan Connector, has burned an estimated 633 hectares. It was started by lightning on Aug. 9.

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces were brought in on Friday to conduct mop-up work, allowing provincial firefighting resources to be deployed elsewhere.


Troops tackle Gottfriedsen

Some good news for residents concerned about the Gottfriedsen wildfire in the Pennask area, near the Okanagan Connector.

A large portion of troops from the Canadian Armed Forces brought in to assist with wildfires in B.C. have been dispatched to the fire.

About 200 troops have been deployed to the province, with another 100 on stand-by in Edmonton.

Lieut. Melissa Kia with Maritime Forces Pacific says land forces based in Merritt are being tasked with mop-up operations.

"What that means is when a fire is under control or even has been put out ... in order to allow those attack teams from BC Wildfire to get out and combat more fires, we send in our people to ensure all hot spots or any potential problem areas have been contained," says Kia.

"We are in a supporting role, as we always are when we are operational in Canada. We take our request from the province and BC Wildfire, and we turn them into action."

Lightning sparked the Gottfriedsen fire on Aug. 9.

Despite progress made on the fire, an evacuation alert remains in effect for the Pennask Lake and Hatheume Lake area.

2 arrested, loot seized

UPDATE: 2:35 p.m.

Police acting on a tip turned out in force to arrest two men, Friday, in Peachland.

Information provided to police was that the men were inside a Trepanier Bench Road home without authorization, ie – they had broken in.

“Our officers were familiar with these individuals, and out of an abundance of caution, in order to ensure both police and public safety, they called upon the RCMP Southeast District Emergency Response Team and both the Kelowna RCMP Air Services and Police Dog Services Sections for added support," said Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey.

A large amount of suspected stolen property was seized at the scene.

The men, 45 and 48, of West Kelowna, face potential charges, as RCMP continue their investigation.

UPDATE: 12:45 p.m.

Witnesses say two men are in handcuffs on the side of Trepanier Bench Road, across from Hainle Vineyards in Peachland.

Police had earlier been searching for at least an hour in the Trepanier Heights neighbourhood, further north in the community.

RCMP have yet to comment on the incident, or what prompted the police action.

ORIGINAL: 12:05 p.m.

Reports are coming in of a heavy police presence in Peachland, near Drought Hill.

Officers have been seen with guns drawn on Trepanier Road, in the Trepanier Heights neighbourhood.

Residents say a police helicopter has been circling the area for about an hour, and several police cruisers are in the neighbourhood, with more officers on foot.

The neighbourhood is just off Drought Hill, near the Highway 97-Okanagan Connector junction.

More details to come.

Send your news tips, photos and video to [email protected]

Fire deemed accident

UPDATE: 12:15 p.m.

The fire that destroyed two homes in the Bayview community was accidental. That's the determination of fire investigators with the West Kelowna Fire Department.

Fire Chief Jason Broland says the cause of the fire was attributed to a barbecue at the rear of one of the residences.

"WKFR reminds the public to be cautious with all sources of heat and ignition in the outdoors," said Broland.

"A campfire ban remains in place and the public is asked to remain vigilant and report fire or smoke."

UPDATE: 6:15 a.m.

West Kelowna Fire Chief Jason Brolund says a barbecue fire Thursday evening spread to two homes.

Firefighters responded to the blaze with crews from the Westbank, Lakeview Heights, Glenrosa and Rose Valley stations.

The fire was knocked down defensively and once safe, crews entered both homes to ensure residents made it out. A cat was rescued from inside one of the homes.

Eleven residents and two pets were placed in care of Emergency Support Services, and firefighters remained on fire watch overnight.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, although it is not considered suspicious. Investigators will return to the scene this morning.

UPDATE: 7:10 p.m.

A witness at the scene of the fire says it appears West Kelowna Fire Rescue has the blaze under control. 

While four fire trucks remain on scene near 2440 Old Okanagan Highway, only one truck is still hitting the home with water and few flames are now visible. 

The heavy smoke that was pouring from the home earlier has also diminished somewhat. 

ORIGINAL: 6:35 p.m.

Firefighters are responding to a house fire in the Bayview community in West Kelowna.

A huge pillar of smoke can be seen rising from the neighbourhood behind the Walmart store, off Old Okanagan Highway.

A barbecue fire apparently got out of hand and spread to the home.

More details to come.

Ban on BBQ brushes?

There is a renewed call to ban wire barbecue brushes, after another incident in Ontario where a man required surgery after ingesting a loose wire from a brush.

Health Canada has issued a warning about the brushes, but so far an outright ban hasn't been enforced. In less than five years, Health Canada has received reports of 46 injuries caused by tiny metal bristles, which fall off the brushes used to clean grills and then end up being eaten.

Dr. Leigh Bishop, a surgeon in Guelph, Ont., says he’s seen metal bristles cause perforations in the stomach, the small intestine and esophagus.

“A lot of people don’t recognize that they may have ingested a bristle at all,” he said. “It may be something completely symptomless until it perforates later in their digestive tract.”

Dr. Bishop said he thinks the metal bristles should be banned.

"One of the main problems is with cheap plastic head brushes that heat up and release the bristles which can get stuck on the grill," said Richard White owner of Whites BBQ & Fireplace Centre in West Kelowna. "For those who don't want the brush at all, there are lots of good wood cleaners mainly cedar, obviously with no danger of getting any bristles into your food." 

There are other products on the market, like the looped brush and brillo pad type cleaners.

"The main thing is to inspect your brush and clean your grill properly, and you won't have any problems." White adds. "A good quality wooden or composite wire brush is still a viable option, just avoid the cheaply made ones."

To see the Health Canada advisory on BBQ brushes click here.

– with files from CT Vancouver

Trucks - highway or no way

The City of West Kelowna has made it clear – large trucks passing through are not welcome on city streets.

The bylaw, given first three readings by council this week, comes after two years of public consultation and tweaking.

In essence, the city is telling truckers to stay on Highway 97 and stop using arterial routes as a shortcut.

Staff said trucks leaving the highway must have business in the city or be doing work for the city.

"When leaving the highway, you must use the highest order road and the most direct route possible," staff said in a report to council.

The city's classification map shows road order as expressway (highway), followed by arterial road, major collector road, minor collector road and finally local road.

"We have to be pretty clear there is no misconception about what the true intent is," said Coun. Rusty Ensign.

"It's to keep them on the highway, stop them from going into neighbourhoods, and only take a direct route on major roads to get there, and to reduce shortcutting."

The changes come after complaints from residents concerned about the number of trucks using their neighbourhood as a shortcut through the city.

Coun. Rosalind Neis wondered if the bylaw was essentially a waste of time, calling it unenforceable. She said she would be pleased, but shocked, if a ticket were ever written.

Crash slows commute

UPDATE: 5:25 p.m.

Traffic webcams appear to show Highway 97 traffic flowing freely again, northbound through West Kelowna.

ORIGINAL: 4 p.m.

Traffic is backed up through West Kelowna – again.

An apparent rear-ender collision has northbound traffic stalled near Boucherie Road and backed up past Ross Road.

That's the second time today traffic into Kelowna has been brought to a crawl.

This morning, a collision on the Bennett Bridge was the cause.

West Kelowna rollover

UPDATE 2:07 p.m.

Two people have been injured after a single vehicle rollover on Hebert Rd. and Hwy 97 in West Kelowna.

The picture sent to us by Dave Ogilvie shows a white SUV on its roof with fire and ambulance on scene working to assist the injured parties.

The intersection is partially blocked by the recovery and rescue effort. Northbound traffic is down to one lane for the time being.

ORIGINAL 1:48 a.m.

Emergency officials and RCMP are en route to a rollover near the intersection of Hebert Road and Dobbin Road in West Kelowna.  

No word at this time whether or not traffic has been impacted.

We'll have more information as it becomes available.

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