Jill Colton, staff writer
July 13, 2010 — Emergency crews worked all through the night to fan the flames of a major wildfire that broke out in the Okanagan.
It's officially under control.
A small grassfire that spun out of control has been contained by fire crews in B.C.'s Okanagan.
“We did have crews working overnight to finish that containment and to continue mopping up,” says Gwen Eamer with the B.C. Wildfire Management Centre.
The flames grew to burn through 30 hectares in just a few hours, destroying a house, two garages, a boat and a police car in it's path of destruction.
The fire was reported on Monday morning near the Seclusion Bay Resort, between Peachland and Kelowna and became a state of emergency for the two districts when it started burning rapidly. More than three dozen people were under an evacuation order. Highway 97 was also closed in both directions near Peachland because of the dangerous conditions.
The weather was the major factor in why the fire grew so large. Strong wind gusts whipped the flames into a frenzy while warm temperatures kept heating conditions ideal. “We certainly know that the drying that took place over the last few days with temperatures in the 30's certainly helped to dry out the grasses and it's burning in a deep slope rocky area,” explains Kelowna's Public Information Officer Bruce Smith.
However, the weather finally began cooperating Monday evening, and things starting looking up. Calmer winds and cooler temperatures helped fire crews contain the flames. An air tanker and several helicopters were also on hand to fight the fire.
Still, the B.C. Forests Ministry's say there are five other major fires currently burning in the province, but none pose a risk to people or buildings.
Nevertheless, officials are keeping residents on high alert. They're advising people to be extra careful with protecting their properties when temperatures are as hot as they have been. Things like discarding cigarettes on the ground can easily ignite a fire that's already fueled by the heat. For residents in Abbotsford, watering the lawn will be out of the question until the end of August. A total ban has been put in place as the fire risk increases in the Fraser Valley.
Although residents aren't happy about their brown lawns, officials say the ban is necessary as the city wants to ensure they have enough water on hand incase a fire breaks out.
For more details on what you can expect in your neighbourhood, click our Canadian Cities Forecast. You can also tune into The Weather Network on TV, where your local forecast comes up every ten minutes on the tens.
With files from The Canadian Press and Andrea Stockton