10 years later: Remembering the Okanagan Mountain Park fire (Gallery)

It has been 10 years since the devastating Okanagan Mountain Park fire, which destroyed 238 homes, 25,900 hectares, and forced the evacuation of more than 33,000 people.

Started by a lightning strike, the fire started near Rattlesnake Island, and due to the extremely dry conditions and constant wind, quickly grew to an interface zone fire.

More than 60 fire departments responded to the massive blaze with more than 1,000 forest firefighters. There was no loss of human life.

Damages totaled in the millions of dollars.

Here is some file footage from our archives:

Ten years later, Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson released a statement looking back on the events of that summer:

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“The Okanagan Mountain Park fire forced the evacuation of over 33,000 people, including members of my own family and many friends and neighbours in Kelowna and Naramata. By the time the smoke finally cleared, 238 homes had been lost or damaged and a dozen historic trestles in the region were destroyed.

“Ten years later, the provincial government’s Wildfire Management Branch and many of B.C.’s communities are much better prepared to respond quickly and decisively to interface fires of that magnitude.

“With many parts of British Columbia experiencing an unusually dry summer this year, it is vital that we all adhere to local and provincial fire regulations. I encourage anyone who spots a wildfire or a campfire violation to report it by calling *5555 on a cellphone or calling 1 800 663-5555 toll-free. To learn more about fire use regulations or the current wildfire situation, visit the Wildfire Management Branch website at:

“The catastrophic 2003 wildfire season serves as a constant reminder to all British Columbians – in every corner of the province – that we must remain vigilant and always use fire carefully and responsibly.”

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