West Kelowna  

Fire was accidental

UPDATED: 7:33 p.m.

The wildfire that took place this afternoon in West Kelowna has been deemed accidental, according to West Kelowna Fire Chief Jason Brolund.

However the ignition source was not able to be conclusively determined by investigators or from residents and bystanders' statements.

The fire is now out but fire crews remain on scene. They will patrol the fire overnight and again tomorrow.

"Today was an unfortunate but sobering example of how fast a wildfire can grow – even given today's cooler conditions and rain earlier in the week," said Brolund. "As we head into the summer season we urge the public to get prepared and exercise extreme caution with any source of ignition.

We thank the public today for their cooperation, including early reports of the fire to 9-1-1 and attempts to extinguish it prior to our arrival.

We are also grateful for the partnership and support from the BC Wildfire Service, RDCO Emergency Operations Centre, RCMP, BC Ambulance Fortis and BC Hydro."

Residents believe a wildfire on the Westside Friday was caused by a neighbour conducting an open burn.

They say the fire quickly got out of control and spread uphill, forcing the evacuation of 10 homes on Scott Crescent.

A resident who lives in the Westpoint Mobile Home Park says he saw a nearby neighbour on a rural property burning material in his yard.

The resident who didn’t wish to be identified says he was working on his roof when he saw flames spread up the hill.

“I saw one guy trying to stamp out the fire, and I said, 'Have you called the fire department?' And he said 'no,'” said the witness. “I thought it would have been a good idea (to call 911), so I called the fire department, but by then it had started to crawl up the hill. They (neighbours) didn’t have any hoses and they were trying to put it out with a plastic bucket ... the bucket caught fire.”

The Westpoint resident says he and his wife were ready to leave their home. They had packed their car and prepared their dogs to leave had they been evacuated; however, flames spread away from their house.

Barry Porrelli, who lives on Scott Crescent, did get evacuated.

Porrelli says he was on the way to Vancouver with his wife when neighbours called to say there was a grassfire approaching their home.

“So we headed back and by the time we got here they told us that we weren’t allowed into our house,” said Porrelli. Luckily, his pets were with him at the time and he had packed extra clothes for his trip to Vancouver.

Meanwhile another neighbour was optimistic the whole ordeal would end quickly and wasn’t concerned he would be out of his home for long.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Currently open fires are not permitted in the Kamloops Fire Centre.

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