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Knox Mountain wildfire in Kelowna deemed held, evacuation orders downgraded to alerts

Click to play video: 'Wildfire on Knox Mountain Park in Kelowna on Canada Day'
Wildfire on Knox Mountain Park in Kelowna on Canada Day
Evacuation orders and an alert have been issued for a wildfire on Knox Mountain Park in Kelowna – Jul 1, 2023

A wildfire that broke out in a park not far from downtown Kelowna on Canada Day is now deemed to be held.

The Knox Mountain Park wildfire began on Saturday afternoon, around 2 p.m., with emergency crews rushing to the scene.

The popular mountain top was a chaotic scene, with firefighters and aerial crews battling the blaze. And five hours later, things changed.

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“BC Wildfire reports the Knox Mountain Fire is held,” Central Emergency Operations said just shortly after 7 p.m.

“However, the fire remains active and is being monitored overnight by BC Wildfire and Kelowna (Fire Department) crews.”

Though now deemed held, Central Okanagan Emergency Operations said residents on alert should be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.

“Some things to get ready include gathering key documents and medication, a list of key phone numbers, an evacuation plan including a plan for pets and animals, having a full tank of gas in the car and a 72-hour emergency kit.”

Smoke from the blaze, originally estimated at 0.5 of a hectare before spreading to 6.5 hectares, could be seen across large portions of Kelowna and West Kelowna.

Within three hours of first being spotted, two evacuation orders and an evacuation alert were issued by Central Okanagan Emergency Operations.

But just after 7 p.m., the two orders were downgraded to alerts, though those alerts for properties in Poplar Point, Knox Mountain, Magic Estates and Clifton areas will remain in effect until further notice.

The temperature in Kelowna on Saturday at 2:30 p.m., was 28 C, with winds gusting beteen 30 and 50 km/h.

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Around 3:30 p.m., the blaze was estimated at four hectares at 3:30 p.m., and was classified as out of control.

It was also listed as showing Rank 2 and Rank 3 characteristics, “meaning there is visible flame and a moderate rate of spread.”

The fire is suspected to be human-caused.

Just before 3:30 p.m., Kelowna RCMP issued a statement, asking people to stay away from Knox Mountain and for boaters on nearby Okanagan Lake to be alert for aircraft bucketing water.

Just before 4 p.m., Central Okanagan Emergency Operations issued evacuation orders in the Knox Mountain and Poplar Point areas, stating “all residents must leave the area immediately.”

Police said tactical evacuations took place in Magic Estates, from Rio Drive south to Magic Estates Drive, and in all areas west of Clifton Drive.

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An evacuation alert was also issued for the remainder of the Clifton Road area plus the community of  Wilden to Upper Canyon Drive north to Union Drive.

A map showing the list of roads and properties under evacuation alert can be viewed online.

Evacuees were asked to register for emergency support services at the Salvation Army Kelowna Community Church at 1480 Sutherland Ave.

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