West Kelowna  

Fire chief says Rose Valley blaze should be 'wake-up call,' reminder that fire season is here

Wildfire 'a wake-up call'

"This event on the weekend should be a wake up call for people."

Following the Rose Valley Dam wildfire that ignited Sunday, West Kelowna fire chief Jason Brolund spoke with Castanet about the rising wildfire risk in the region. 

"The weather conditions this weekend were what we typically see this time of year - hot, windy, the beautiful Okanagan weather," he says. "Our fire danger had reached extreme so we were definitely on the lookout."

Brolund says his team has fought fires in Rose Valley previously so they knew what to expect.

"Our crews went to one of the lookout points, determined exactly where the fire was and were able to head right into the base of it and began to construct a fireguard. The fire grew very fast in the initial 15 minutes or so, but we were very fortunate to have lots of support from the BC Wildfire Service."

Twelve firefighters from West Kelowna initially attended the fire, along with multiple crews from BC Wildfire Service.

At its peak, the fire reached approximately 5 hectares in size before it was contained and reduced in size to three hectares.

With the help of air crews, the fire was brought under control. Brolund said boaters on Okanagan Lake should stay out of the way of aircraft when a wildfire is active in the area.

Brolund has also shared some tips on how people can protect against wildfires.

"Cigarettes being thrown out of windows, people being careless with campfires, leaving cars running parked in tall grass — these are all things that could spark a wildfire but there are other things out there too that we don't have any control of. Things like the weather or a fire that starts somewhere else and encroaches on your home," he says.

People are reminded to check Fire Smart Canada to see what they can do to protect against wildfires.

"Work people might do around their homes could include things like replacing a cedar-shake roof, removing trees that are touching their home that could act as a wick in the case of fire, installing a suppression system or even things as simple as just changing over to xeriscaping," says Brolund.

Residents of West Kelowna have the chance to receive a $500 grant if they take action around their homes, based on the Fire Smart Canada principles.

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