Floods, fires all at once

Alanna Kelly

In just one week, the Okanagan Valley has shifted from floods to fires.

A five-hectare grass fire tore up the hill towards Mission Hill Winery on Mount Boucherie and came just metres away from homes on Saturday.

West Kelowna Fire Chief Jason Brolund said the past weekend was surreal.

“It feels like it is all happening at once,” he said.

It was just last week that the military worked in Green Bay, just below the fire scene, to help protect infrastructure from rising waters in Okanagan Lake.

“Now, here we are just up the hill, having knocked down a significant interface fire,” said Brolund. “It’s kind of a whole summer's worth of adventure in one short week.”

Warm weather quickly pushed the fire danger in Kelowna and West Kelowna into the high category.

“Fires can start and spread quickly under these conditions,” said Brolund. 

Environment Canada meteorologist Armel Castellan says this has been one of the warmest and driest Mays in years.

“By and large, as a province, much drier than normal,” he said. “In Kelowna, the average temperature so far has been 17.9 C. The average is normally 12.8.

“We’ve so far seen 22.5 mm of rain. Normally, we would see an average of 40.2 mm."

Kelowna firefighters remind the public that campfires and outdoor wood burning appliances are not allowed within city limits at any time.

“A spark from a campfire can easily jump and ignite surrounding kindling. It wouldn’t take much in these conditions for a fire to spread in either rural or urban areas, and the impact could be disastrous," said spokesman Rick Euper.

Violators could face a $345 fine.

If you see smoke or flames you should call 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 on your cell phone.

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