July 26, 2013 - 8:31 AM
UPDATE: 8 a.m. July 26
KELOWNA - The wildfire east of Ellison lake that caused some disruption at the Kelowna airport last night continues to smoulder this morning. Kamloops Fire Centre information officer Melissa Welsh says crews are still on scene and will be continuing the mop-up throughout the day.
"What they're seeing is a rank one," including smouldering ground, smoke, a few burning stumps and hot spots, Welsh says.
"This morning it was 100 per cent machine guarded," she says. Crews used a bobcat tractor to create a wide fuel ring around the area, with a larger width than a typical dugout handguard.
Nature bore the brunt of the damage, the extent of which was burning timber. The flames did not spread to any of the structures in the area.
The overall fire response was largely succesful, she says, involving a collaboration of municipal fire departments and the B.C. Wildfire service which took charge of the scene.
The inital report came in around 6 p.m. with the fire spotted just three kilometers north of the Kelowna airport. Two attack crews of six firefighters were joined by two helicopters, one air tanker group and one forest group to knock down the flames. Just before 11 p.m. another 17 firefighters arrived from Vernon to keep the fire under control.
To allow a safe clearance for the air tankers the Kelowna airport closed their air space from 6:15 to 8:50 p.m. last night, delaying three flights destined for Vancouver and Calgary and another seven flights coming into Kelowna. One Air Canada flight from Vancouver was cancelled, while the others experienced delays anywhere between 90 minutes and three hours.
YLW airport director Sam Samaddar says these incidents happen a couple times a year.
"But usually not so close to the airport, usually in areas we can provide reasonable separation," he says.
"In this particular case the fire was very close to airport and was very problematic for us."
Samaddar says airport operations are back to normal today.
UPDATE: 10:37 p.m. July 25
KELOWNA -- A small fire burning several kilometres north of Kelowna International Airport is largely contained at this hour.
Melissa Welsh, fire information officer with B.C. WIldfire, says quick work on the blaze has kept it at roughly 3.5 hectares for several hours. The fire is boxed in by retardant and a natural fire guard along a power line.
A new crew of 17 fire fighters just hit the scene around 10 p.m. and will work on a ground guard to get true containment. Much of the work has been done by air, with tankers dropping retardant and choppers bucketing water. A dozer and initial attack crews are building guards on the ground.
Welsh said the fire is three to four kms north of the airport and while smoke impacted air travellers for a short period of time, the proximity of the fire helped keep it at bay. B.C. Wildfire crews were aided by nearby firefighters and police.
No structures were in danger. They will assess the situation again in the morning.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Julie Whittet at email@example.com or call (250)718-0428.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013