Ellison blaze marks start of Vernon fire season | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Ellison blaze marks start of Vernon fire season

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VERNON - The Vernon fire zone was faced with it's first big fire of the year last weekend when a 2.2 hectare blaze bloomed in Ellison Provincial Park.

Around 250 campers were evacuated from the park Sunday afternoon, but were back in their tents by 9 p.m.

Steve Olson, incident commander with the Wildfire Management branch in Vernon attributes the quick containment of the fire to good team work with the Vernon fire department.

Hot, dry and windy for the first couple hours, Olson says a full response was initiated to keep the fire from spreading to the campground or nearby houses.

"We blocked the fire in with natural barriers," Olson says, noting the walking paths worked to their advantage by providing strips without any forest fuels.

In total, he says about 60 people were on site fighting the fire that day. In the evening, rainfall helped to extinguish the rest of the fire.

Crews stayed the night, and swapped shifts with a new batch of firefighters in the morning.

"It's been pretty quiet so far this year. This was the first fire that posed any kind of challenge," Olson says.

Because there was no lightning reported in the area, fire information officer Kayla Pepper says the most likely cause was human.

"We're asking people to be very diligent about campfires," Pepper says, adding cigarettes and exhaust pipes on ATVs are other common ignition sources.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infotelnews.ca, call (250)309-5230 or tweet @charhelston.


UPDATE: 8:20 a.m. July 15

VERNON - A two-hectare blaze that started Sunday afternoon near Ellison Provincial Park is under control, but firefighters remain on scene.

Kayla Pepper, an information officer with the Kamloops Fire Centre, says the Vernon Fire Department evacuated campers for several hours as a precaution, but by 9 p.m. all alerts were lifted.

Pepper says 19 firefighters spent the night, and a fresh batch of 20 are on their way to replace them this morning.

"We'll be there until it's completely out," Pepper says.

The weather was on their side last night as a few millimeters of rain fell.

Okanagan Landing Road was closed for several hours as crews battled the flames, but was reopened just before 9 p.m.


8:12 p.m. July 14

A fire that broke out this afternoon is threatening Ellison Provincial Park near Vernon but has not forced any evacuations yet.

Kayla Pepper, spokesperson for B.C. Wildfire Management Branch says crews got on the blaze early and hope to have it quickly contained. It's only two hectares in size and burning near the water.

She said Vernon Fire Rescue has spoken to people in the area. They cleared the campground but no evacuations were ordered. Wildfire crews hit it early with two groups of air tankers dropping a retardant guard around it and now have 23 people on the ground, aided by two helicopters dropping water.

"At this time nothing is threatened and it's showing minimal fire activity," she said. In the heat of the day, fire was moving through the canopy of the trees—known as candling—but has calmed down into the night.

She couldn't say exactly how close the fire is to the park. It's suspected the fire was human caused, but not confirmed at this time.

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