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How much worse can it get? Evacuation Alert To Another 9,600 in Kelowna BC

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  • mcaldwell
    We've just had three solid days of rain and 15-20 degree temps. The backcountry travel ban has already been lifted, and two more days of rain may even see the fire ban lifted as well.

    Cranbrook has been getting at least some of this rain. Most of the local crews sent down to help have just come home (although they were told to be ready to head to the interior).

    For the first time I can remember I'm hoping the rain and "crappy" weather stick around for a week or so.

    On another positive note, we finally got a helicopter off of the Cranbrook fire to come and install our new chairlift towers. Our two new quad chairs are up, and we are just waiting for snow!!

    Who wants to go skiing?

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  • RspctFrmCalgary
    Thanks Marty!

    I haven't been able to post any updates on the fires at all. I believe things are getting better, we had rain and the temps are cooler.

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  • mcaldwell
    For anyone who's interested, I found a link to the Discovery Channel Bit from last week.


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  • mcaldwell
    I've had a quick look around, and I cannot find the manual online. If you do a search on "S-205, or S-215" however, lots of agencies seem to offer the program.

    As a word of Caution, I did notice that there seems to be a huge variance in the length of the program between the various agencies. Some are offering the courses over one day (8 hrs), and others are up to 5 days (40 hrs). I cannot see how the course could be given effectively in one day. There is just too much information to take in and retain (ours came with a detailed 150 page manual). Our instructor was pushed to do it in 3 days, and we had no practical portion and a 40% fail rate in a class of 20 Chiefs and Deputies. I would suggest that the 4 or 5 day programs are probably the better option, and the most likely to include a practical portion.

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  • mcaldwell
    The draft program we participated in back in 2001 was called the "S-205 Interface Fire Operations Strategy & Tactics Course". It was a three day course designed to work in conjunction with the S-100/200 or S-130 Wildland Firefighting Programs. The entire three days were packed full of classroom lectures, so unless they have changed the content, It is probably best to add a day on your own for conducting a few practical risk assessments in your area.

    Our instructor was Don Mortimer from Fireline Consulting and Instruction out of Rossland BC, but I'm sure there must be someone doing this out on the coast as well. If not, send me a PM and I'll give you Don's contact info.

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  • RspctFrmCalgary
    Thanks for the link shuswap!

    Okanagan firefighters fear high winds while pleading for rainfall

    KELOWNA, B.C. (CP) - Hundreds of firefighters battling the Okanagan Mountain Park wildfire pleaded for rain and feared wind Friday as the stubborn blaze rolled through its third week of terrorizing thousands of Kelowna residents.

    "You can appreciate we're having an awful time with the weather here lately," said Brian Kempf of the B.C. Forest Service.

    The comment might be one of the fire season's classic understatements, given that some deserts likely have seen more rain in the last 60 days than has the Okanagan and many other parts of British Columbia.

    High winds whipped the Okanagan Mountain Park fire into a seething conflagration two weeks ago that destroyed about 240 homes and forced some 30,000 evacuations. It now is threatening to do the same again.

    The huge wildfire, started by lightning began Aug. 16, sparked more than 3,000 evacuations Wednesday - some people for the second time.

    It also destroyed six wooden trestles on the historic Kettle Valley trail system, an abandoned railway line that's now a popular attraction for hikers and cyclists. Two steel trestles also lost their wooden decks.

    About 15,000 other people in Kelowna are on evacuation alert, told to pack and be ready to leave their homes if an order is given.

    On Friday, officials estimated the size of the fire at about 230 square kilometres and only 60 per cent contained.

    They were attacking it with 650 firefighters, 22 helicopters and 22 pieces of heavy equipment.

    What can't be estimated is the force of the wind and its potential havoc.

    Kempf said gusts as strong as 60 km/h were possible.

    "So we're projecting that the fire might move (Friday) as much as five to eight kilometres," he said.

    The damage to Kettle Valley trestles was heartbreaking but unavoidable.

    "It got into a place where there is no way we can work ground forces," said Kempf. "It's just too steep and too rocky and too dangerous to be in there."

    The railway line, which took six years to complete after construction started in 1910, spanned some of the most challenging mountainous terrain in British Columbia.

    Canadian Pacific Railway closed it in the 1960s but volunteers restored the 18 decaying, trackless trestles in the 1990s.

    Kelowna city fire chief Gerry Zimmermann said the latest strategy employed for the fire would be to rest many of the city crews Friday in case they're needed for the weekend while other firefighters try to protect rural residences and the remaining Kettle Valley trestles.

    "We're going to actively go out and try to fireproof some of these residences, as much as we can the ones in the rural areas," said Zimmermann.

    Fire department crews from other municipalities, in addition to B.C. Forest Service and military personnel, have also returned to Kelowna.

    Bruce Smith of the emergency operations centre said trucks pulled into Kelowna overnight Thursday night from all over the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and the Okanagan.

    "It's quite an amazing parking lot across from the firehall," he said.

    As many as 40 units and crews had arrived from fire departments throughout British Columbia by Friday, he said.

    While the Okanagan fire has occupied the spotlight for many days, hundreds of other fires continue to burn, particularly in the province's southern regions.

    In the southeast near Cranbrook, residents of the East Kootenay city experienced smoke from the Lamb Creek fire that has plagued firefighters for weeks.

    No home are threatened by the 110-square-kilometre blaze.

    Stephen Harris of the Interior Health Authority said many residents, as in other locales in the province, are experiencing stress because the fires have been burning for so long.

    "We're all feeling that stress," he said. "Those of us who are living with an evacuation notice sort of hanging over your head for weeks on end."

    Meantime, two fires in the West Kootenay grew but officials said they were under control.

    The Ketutl fire near Nelson grew to 80 square kilometres from 65 but fire information officer Jeff Green said it was burning away from Nelson and Proctor.

    The McLure-Barriere fire north of Kamloops now is almost completely contained after drawing most of the attention last month when it destroyed many homes, including most in the tiny community of Louis Creek.

    The Canadian Press, 2003

    09/5/2003 17:32 EST

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  • ShuswapFireF
    Go to http://www.awis.ca to view infared pictures of all the major fires burning in B.C. at the moment.

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  • NJFFSA16
    Thanks Respect! I'm out of position and don't have the normal access to the AP and Reuters wire systems...so IT'S UP TO YOU!

    Leave a comment:

  • RspctFrmCalgary
    I've never heard of it but would also like to do some reading if you can toss us a link please

    I wish I had seen the Discovery Channel program.

    I'm going to be without the computer from Saturday morning to Monday evening wahhhhhhhhh maybe it will be on TV again.

    Calgary had sent firefighters to Cranbrook too, but then I heard they got called home that they weren't needed anymore. A few days after that the fire got worse, so not sure if we sent anyone back.

    Glad you guys managed to avoid the worst of it Marty.

    Leave a comment:

  • PFire23
    Where can you find info on the New Interface Fire Operations Programs?? We live in an interface area, literally plopped in the middle of forested area. Our DC is a member of Forestry, but he's very busy at this time so I don't want to bother him :P (yeah, what's a little brown nosing now and then hehehe). If you could tell me where I could do some reading on this I would appreciate it. Thanks.

    Leave a comment:

  • mcaldwell
    If anyone has watched the Discovery Channel over the last few days, you may have seen the piece on the fire investigations of the lost homes in Kelowna. I found it very interesting (and reassuring) that the preliminary investigation indicates that both building construction and property maintenance and preparation were deemed to have played the key role in whether or not a home survived.

    I think this should add more credibility to the New Interface Fire Operations Programs that have been recently developed to assist structural dept's in preparing homes/subdivisions for wildfire. Our Dept Officers participated in the first round of this program two years ago, and it sure is proving valuable today.

    On a related note, our local dept's have begun sending relief crews to Cranbrook to help with interface ops there.

    Now the only problem is we can't get the first wave of guys to come home!!

    Leave a comment:

  • How much worse can it get? Evacuation Alert To Another 9,600 in Kelowna BC

    Fire near Kelowna, B.C., claims five historic railway trestles

    KELOWNA, B.C. (CP) - The resurgent Okanagan Mountain Park wildfire near here has claimed five historic railway trestle bridges and threatens the other 13, officials said Thursday.

    The fire, which forced 3,200 people to flee their homes, some the second time, consumed five bridges on the 90-year-old Kettle Valley Railway line running through Myra Canyon, an internationally popular hiking and cycling route. Two of the other trestles along the 15-kilometre section of line southeast of Kelowna were also damaged, including one steel-framed trestle that lost its deck. Most of the bridges are made of creosote-soaked timber while two are steel with wooden decks.

    Emergency officials also issued an evacuation alert to another 9,600 Kelowna-area residents, bringing to 15,100 the number of people in the area now on short notice to leave.

    The alerts cover neighbourhoods on the southern and eastern fringes of Kelowna, a city of 100,000 people.

    Late Thursday, B.C. Forest Service spokesman Jeff Moore said the remaining trestles, made of highly flammable creosote-soaked timber, are a major concern if the winds pick up Friday because "it's almost like adding gasoline onto the timbers.

    "People are distraught," he said of the five historic Kettle Valley Railway trestles gobbled up by flames.

    "It represents a loss of heritage, a loss of recreational activities, very significant ones," Moore said of the railway that was built in the early 1900s and has been out of service since the 60s.

    Residents of the area's Black Mountain irrigation district were also advised to boil their drinking water after chlorine cylinders were removed from the local water-treatment plant due to the fire threat.
    Fire crews were taking every precaution to protect homes once again in the path of the fire, said Karen Cairns of the Kelowna emergency operations centre.

    "They're applying what they call a barricade gel to those homes and once again we're at the mercy of the wind," she said.

    Driven by rising winds, the 2½-week-old fire grew by 17 square kilometres overnight to a total of 228 square kilometres and forecasts called for winds of up to 35 kilometres an hour.

    "We're kind of fearing the worst," Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray said. "The fire probably will head east, which of course may take out more of the Kettle Valley historic railway."

    The railway line, which took six years to complete after construction started in 1910, spanned some of the most challenging mountainous terrain in British Columbia. Canadian Pacific Railway closed it in the 1960s but volunteers restored the 18 decaying, trackless trestles in the 1990s. They installed guardrails and laid planking on the ties to make them safe for hikers and cyclists. The line now attracts thousands of visitors a year and is a major source of tourism revenue for the nearby town of Naramata.

    In a small-scale replay of what happened about two weeks ago, residents of threatened Kelowna suburbs were ordered out on short notice Wednesday night.

    B.C. Forest Service spokesman Kirk Hughes said the June Springs, Joe Rich and Gallagher's Canyon areas north and east of the fire were most affected. The fire was still several kilometres from any homes and its progress appeared to slow during the evening as it moved southeast.

    Fire crews were also mopping up hot spots in the Crawford Estates area, one of the suburbs where more than 230 homes were destroyed earlier this month. Fire information officer Kevin Matuga said the fire's behaviour Wednesday was very similar to conditions that forced 30,000 to flee Aug. 21-22. "It's just extreme fire behaviour, with the kind of conditions we have, the dryness of the fuels," he told BCTV News. "Once again we're just getting those afternoon winds and with these conditions we're just seeing some very volatile fire behaviour."

    Matuga said it will be hard to save the remaining Kettle Valley Railway trestles if the fire continues to act so aggressively.
    For some, it was the second evacuation in just over two weeks.
    Kyle Grant's family was ordered out Aug. 21 and lived at a hotel for a week before being allowed back home. On Wednesday night, the Grants found themselves back in the same hotel room.

    "The stress level has been pretty high," Grant said. "My mom was very, very upset. My father is desperately trying to get back to Kelowna from Edmonton." Some 1,300 evacuees checked in at a recreation centre in Kelowna and will be put up in hotels if necessary, while others were staying with friends and relatives.

    Officials also issued an evacuation order late Wednesday night to residents in the McGillivray Lake area east of Kamloops after high winds and dry conditions caused a blaze to jump fireguards.
    An evacuation alert was also issued for the resort village of Sun Peaks and surrounding properties because of the McGillivray fire, which forced residents of the town of Pritchard to flee earlier this month.

    The 96-square-kilometre McGillivray fire remains a concern, Matuga said. "We need to re-establish those control lines in anticipation of the winds that are forecasted for this area," he said.
    Winds also threaten to derail the progress crews have made on the month-old McLure-Barriere fire, which forced thousands from their homes and destroyed the village of Louis Creek. "We've got it 95 per cent contained," said Matuga. "But (with) 65-km/h forecasted wind gusts we're expecting our lines to be challenged today." Meanwhile, a fire creeping towards a town north of Creston almost tripled overnight to nearly 28 square kilometres.

    The Kuskonook fire was moving east toward Kootenay Lake and 90 more firefighters were expected to join the 60 already fighting the fire. Fire information officer Jeff Green said the blaze was two kilometres away from the nearest structure.

    Meanwhile, the Lamb Creek fire near Cranbrook, which was threatening homes south of the city, remained manageable at nearly 110 square kilometres.

    Fire information officer Jeff Green said crews were very successful in quelling new spot fires as they broke out. "However there is concern with the weather," he said. "We will be watching the lightning maps very closely."

    In all, there were 687 fires burning in the province.

    The Canadian Press, 2003
    09/5/2003 0:41 EST

    I'm posting this here instead of Wildland or Fire Wire in order to bring to light the tremoundous job all those fighting the fires in BC are doing ..... STILL with no end in sight. We are having record hot temps, at least 10 degrees above normal avg.

    This morning there were reports of high winds in the fire areas in BC. I keep thinking it can't get worse and then the fires destroy more and more and more.

    Again, hats off to the awesome job the firefighters, soldiers, navy personnel who have fought non-stop all summer to save strangers and neighbours and even their own homes, businesses and property. And the many private citizens from BC and Alberta who have supported and cared for the firefighters through it all by providing food, clothing and graditude to the firefighters also deserve a huge THANK YOU.

    I don't mean to diminish the job of any firefighter in the states or overseas currently fighting their own forest fires. It is just that I don't ever remember a season like this one, where so many homes and businesses have been destroyed. Threatened yes, destroyed no.


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