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Warning issued as 10 year firestorm anniversary approaches

The Okanagan Mountain Park forest fire was a one-in-a-hundred year inferno that burned 239 homes to the ground in Kelowna.
Image Credit: SOURCE/wikimedia
July 27, 2013 - 11:00 AM

KELOWNA - Fire hazard is heading into the extreme range thanks to the long stretch of dry, hot weather and the strong wind forecast for the weekend.

It was 10 years ago that the Southern Interior was experiencing very similar conditions and it was that summer 10 years ago that has been nicknamed the 2003 Firestorm.

There were two huge forest fires that summer.

A carelessly tossed cigarette butt ignited the first one. It sparked the McLure fire in the North Thompson.

The McLure fire started on July 30, 2003, devastating the towns of Barriere and McLure and destroying Louis Creek.

Close to 3,800 people were evacuated from their homes. The fire burned for 75 days destroying 75 homes and 9 businesses. It blackened over 26,000 hectares.

Then two weeks later, a lightning strike started a forest fire near Rattlesnake Island in Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park just north of Kelowna.

Again, the combination of tinder dry brush and high winds fanned the flames into a firestorm.

The one-in-a-hundred-year inferno forced the evacuation of 27,000 people and burned 250 square kilometers, including 239 homes on the southern edge of Kelowna.

A dozen of the historic Kettle Valley Railway wooden trestles were damaged or destroyed in Myra Canyon.

Forests minister Steve Thompson is issuing a warning today. He doesn’t want a repeat of the firestorms in 2003.

“As the trend of hot weather continues in southern B.C., once again we see the wildfire risk increasing,” the Kelowna MLA says.

“So please be extra vigilant with all activities in the outdoors, including lighting and extinguishing campfires, driving all terrain vehicles and disposing of cigarettes.”

To contact the reporter for this story, email or call (250) 491-0331.

The McLure forest fire forced 3,800 people out their homes and destroyed 75 homes and 9 business in July of 2003.
The McLure forest fire forced 3,800 people out their homes and destroyed 75 homes and 9 business in July of 2003.
Image Credit: SOURCE/
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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