Knox suspects sought

Alanna Kelly

UPDATE: 10:30 p.m.

Fire investigators are working closely with the Kelowna RCMP after a suspicious grass fire broke out on Knox Mountain Sunday afternoon, says platoon captain Steve Wallick. 

"The fire is 100 per cent contained," Wallick said. "We are now working with the RCMP because the fire is deemed suspicious." 

Fire crews will continue to monitor the area and put out any hot spots, according to the Kelowna Fire Department. 

 UPDATE: 6:30 p.m.

RCMP and fire investigators have a description of people they believe were involved in a grass fire on Knox Mountain Sunday.

The grass fire broke out just after 2 p.m. in a forested area beside the road, about three quarters to the top look out on the south facing slope.  

“The RCMP are investigating right now with our fire investigators at the origin point right along side the road, they’ve got a description of people that they may be looking for, no witnesses to the actual lighting of the fire so it is just people have suspicion at this point,” said Deputy Fire Chief Lou Wilde.

Air support from BC Forest Services was on scene along with three initial attack crew members from BC Forest Service and 20 Kelowna firefighters battled the difficult fire.

“It was pretty hard, it is headed up a grass slope, a 45 degree slope,” said Wilde.

“With the initial crew that got here from Water Street fire station it was above the road so working from below the fire they had a lot of work to get ahead of it and try to cut it off, they had their hands full while waiting for the rest of the firefighters coming from the rest of the city.”

A helicopter is on the top of Knox Mountain standing by in case it is needed and a guard has been set up so the fire cannot skip out.

“Every summer we work with the parks department to determine whether it is worth while shutting the parks, you want to leave parks open to people but the biggest thing for us is having the gate locked at the bottom, as it was today,” said Wilde.

Police would not release any suspect information at this time but asked that anyone with information or anyone who witnesses any activity on the mountain to contact them at (250) 762-3300.

UPDATE: 4:40 p.m.

The Kelowna Fire Department says it continues to fight a fire on Knox Mountain with support from BC Wildfire Service firefighters.

The fire is estimated at .75 of a hectare in size, and witnesses report smoke has diminished substantially.

Platoon Captain Kelly Stephens says the fire started above the second lookout. 

The park remains closed to motorized traffic, though many hikers were on the park's trails Sunday.

No residents are at threat at this time, the fire department says.

Ground crews are working to get a guard built around the fire, and helicopter drops will continue throughout the afternoon.

KFD has 18 members on site, supported by an initial attack crew of three from the wildfire service. Two helicopters and two 802 air tractors fought the fire from the air.  

UPDATE: 3:03 p.m.

Knox Mountain Park was closed Sunday afternoon after a wildfire broke out. People at the park said they were ordered to leave. 

Smoke from the fire could be seen across Kelowna.

Kelowna Fire Department said there had been no evacuations ordered for residences below the mountain.  

Kelowna fire crews were joined by BC Fire Rescue in quickly battling the fast-moving wildfire. More than a dozen trucks headed to the scene for a ground fight while helicopters dropped water from the sky.

Aircraft were seen dropping fire retardant around the perimeter of the fire.

By 3 p.m., smoke from the fire was lighter but still visible, according to witnesses.

UPDATE: 2:45 p.m.

At least 15 fire trucks from Kelowna Fire Department are at the Knox Mountain area fire fighting the blaze which broke out earlier this afternoon.

Castanet reporter Alanna Kelly said the crews, with the help of air support from the BC Wildfire Service, have made some progress on the fire which is less visible than it was earlier. 

The fire is being fought from the ground and the air. Helicopters have been seen getting buckets of water from nearby Okanagan Lake.

UPDATE: 2:34 p.m.

The BC Wildfire Service has sent helicopters and air tankers to fight a fire in the Knox Mountain area of Kelowna.

"The wildfire service is assisting the Kelowna fire department," said Jody Lucius, fire information officer. "We are currently sending two helicopters, one three-person ground crew and air tankers."

Lucius did not know how many air tankers were available.

Kelowna Fire Department crews are on scene, a spokesperson said.

ORIGINAL: 2:14 p.m.

A fire can be seen in the Knox Mountain area of Kelowna.

Grey smoke can be seen rising into the sky.

A BC Wildfire spokesperson said they are aware of the reports and that the Kelowna Fire Department is on scene.

Castanet will update when more information becomes available.

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