UPDATE: 3:45 p.m. July 21, 2013
Crews have the Kalamoir Regional Park wildfire 100 per cent surrounded by a fireguard.
Deputy West Kelowna fire chief Darren Lee says as of 12:30 p.m. crews from the fire department and B.C. Wildfire Management has built a hand-guard around the perimeter of the two hectare fire.
By 2:30 p.m., all the visible hot spots were out.
West Kelowna fire fighters will make periodic patrols along the edge of the fire over the next 24 hours. They’ve also left some hose behind in case they need to put out any flare-ups.
11:20 a.m. July 21, 2013
While investigators aren’t positive, all the evidence points to people setting off fireworks as the cause of a grassfire in Kalamoir Regional Park near Casa Loma on the Westside Saturday night.
The West Kelowna got the call around 7:44 p.m. It took awhile to find the fire, but when they did, they pulled out all the stops.
Smoke from the fire was blowing across the lake into Kelowna.
The 2 hectare fire was burning in steep and rugged terrain just below several homes on Weatherhill Road. A brisk southerly wind was pushing the flames uphill quickly and the houses were in danger.
The call went out for help. More resources were sent from the West Kelowna fire hall and the B.C. Forest Service was alerted.
The Forest Service responded with a helicopter and bucket, along with air tankers from the base in Penticton. The helicopter dropped buckets of water and quickly knocking down the hot spots on the steep terrain. Meanwhile, 30 fire fighters were battling the blaze on the ground. The Peachland Fire Department sent a rescue boat to keep boats out of the area of Okanagan Lake where the helicopter was refilling its bucket.
Five homes were evacuated in what fire fighters call a “tactical evacuation.” The Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre was on standby in case the blaze got out of control.
It took about 2 hours to get the fire under control and about 50% contained. At that point the evacuated families were allowed back into their homes.
Overnight, a crew of West Kelowna fire fighters stayed on the scene to patrol for hot spots and keep a sprinkler line behind the houses running.
Fire investigators say blaze human caused
Investigators returned to the scene Sunday morning and found the spot where the fire started.
Several eyewitnesses said that fireworks were being used in or near the park. It’s those fireworks that likely sparked the grass fire.
If you have information that could help out with the investigation you're asked to call the West Kelowna RCMP (250) 768-2880.
The goal Sunday was to get a hand-guard dug around the perimeter of the 2 hectare wildfire before temperatures reached back into the 30 C range.
Fire damage area in Kalamoir Regional Park closed
The piece of Kalamoir Regional Park affected by the wildfire is closed and it will likely be Tuesday, at the earliest, before it re-opens.
Most of the Passmore Trail has been closed by Central Okanagan Regional District staff. It was accessed from Collens Hill Road.
Any other trails that go through the closed area of the park have signs and tape up warning hikers to stay away. Regional Parks staff will have a look at the burnt areas later this week to figure out which parts can be re-opened safely.
“It’s extremely dry and the fire hazard remains high. If not for the quick response by West Kelowna and BC Wildfire Management fire crews Saturday night, this could have been much worse than it was,” according to Regional District communications officer Bruce Smith. “People are reminded that smoking is not allowed at anytime in any Regional Park. As well, campfires or fires of any kind are not allowed in our parks.”
The fine is $100 if you’re caught.
To contact the reporter for this story, call (250) 491-0331, or email email@example.com.