July 27, 2018 3:18 am
Updated: July 27, 2018 7:38 am

Wildfire crews work to guard Kelowna from stubborn wildfire


The Goode’s Creek Fire, a blaze burning for more than a week southwest of Kelowna city limits, remains active, prompting crews to build further containment on the fire’s east flank.

The fire is burning through new-growth areas that were torched in the massive Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park Fire in 2003.

“The fire is working its way through the small drainages, hitting unburnt fuels, creating visible smoke,” a fire update posted Thursday evening by the BC Wildfire Service stated.

The east flank of the fire is about three kilometres away from the City of Kelowna boundary on Lakeshore Road.

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The Goode’s Creek Fire is being held at 577 hectares, according to the B.C. Wildfire Service, but is considered “out of control as no further spread can be guaranteed.”

“The fire has seen an increase in fire activity this afternoon and is being worked on by skimmers supporting ground crew operations,” the release said.

There are no alerts or evacuations prompted by the blaze burning above Okanagan Lake and the BC Wildfire Service stressed that homes are not threatened at this time.

“It is not moving towards Kelowna and is no threat to structures.”

A crew of 63 wildfire personnel and contractors are working on the blaze, which was sparked by lightning during an electrical storm July 17. The storm started more than a dozen fires.

Because the landscape in Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park was decimated in 2003, there is no shade for fire crews to seek, Okanagan Fire Complex manager Glen Burgess said at a press conference Thursday afternoon.

Environment Canada said the recorded high in Kelowna Thursday afternoon was 32 C, while B.C. wildfire crews measured the temperature several degrees higher at the fire. The forecast is for 35 C by Monday.

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The heat and the geography remain the challenges at the Goode’s Creek Fire.

“The fingers of this wildfire are still presenting challenges as they make suppression a time-consuming task,” said a July 26 update on the Goode’s Creek Fire. “Fingers are the long narrow extensions of a fire projecting from the main body. This wildfire brings tough working conditions for crews as it is in extremely steep, rocky terrain with no shade and direct sun exposure.”

Crews working on the blaze are starting earlier in the day, spending fewer hours on their shift and being given lots of rest to protect against fatigue, Okanagan Fire Complex manager Glen Burgess said at a press conference Thursday afternoon.

Burgess said because the park forests are fairly thin, it’s been easier to obtain the upper hand.

“These fires, they just don’t have the fuels to sustain the kind of burning that would cause us any problems at this point,” Burgess said.

READ MORE: 2018 fire season: More fires, less burning; EOC deactivating for now

Three fires will be taken off the “Fires of Note” page Friday, according to the BC Wildfire Service, as they are in patrol status.

They include the Peachland Creek Fire, which is being held at 23 hectares, the Law Creek Fire southwest of West Kelowna, which was mapped at 16 hectares, and the Mount Conkle Fire which grew to 118 hectares southwest of Summerland.

The BC Wildfire Service said the public’s generosity has been overwhelming and asked anyone who would like to help to donate to Honour House.

“Honour House is a refuge, a ‘home away from home’ for members of our Canadian Armed Forces, Veterans, Emergency Services Personnel (including BC Wildfire Service personnel) and their families to stay, completely free of charge, while they are receiving medical care and treatment in the Metro Vancouver area,” the Service stated.

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