Burnt car was left in gear

Deputy fire chief Chris Forster says the blaze that closed Highway 97 briefly late this morning was caused by a car left in gear while being towed. 

"The person had left it in gear and proceeded to tow it, so of course it couldn't do its thing, the transmission couldn't work etc., and it overheated and caught on fire," Forster said. 

Nobody was injured, and fire crews quickly doused the flames when they arrived. 

UPDATE: 12:20 p.m.

New images sent to Castanet show the Mini that burned in a vehicle fire on Highway 97 was being towed by a motorhome.

Occupants of the RV could be seen trying to unhitch the car from the larger vehicle.

One man had a fire extinguisher in his hands, but the small car went up in flames.

Firefighters doused blaze, and traffic is flowing again north of Penticton.

UPDATE: 12:10 p.m.

Traffic is starting to move again on Highway 97, just north of Penticton.

Photos from the scene show the vehicle was a Mini Cooper. 

The vehicle fire is out.

It's not known if anyone was hurt in the incident.

ORIGINAL: 11:50 a.m.

An apparent vehicle fire has brought northbound traffic to a halt on Highway 97, just north of Penticton.

The incident is said to involve a single vehicle, possibly towing a trailer.

Thick, black smoke can be seen rising from the Sage Mesa area.

Traffic is backing up heavily in both directions.

Castanet has a reporter head to the scene.

More to come.

-with files from Jon Manchester and Chelsea Powrie.

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