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Saturday, August 16th, 2003

The fire was caused by a lightning strike at approximately 2 am. Three firefighters responded to the 5 hectare (12.4 acre) blaze. In less than 24 hours the fire was out of control covering over 400 hectares (988 acres). Click here for a hectares/acres converter.

South Kelowna was put on evacuation alert.

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Sunday, August 17th, 2003

The Okanagan Valley is completely submerged in smoke. The fire has grown to over 1000 hectares, but cooperative winds have temporarily stopped the spread. Approximately 50 firefighters are on the scene with air support from water bombers and helicopters.

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Monday, August 18th, 2003

The fire has now grown to over 1800 hectares and is spreading rapidly. Earlier in the day it seemed to be burning back on itself, but by night fall the winds shifted and turned it toward Kelowna. 50 families have now been evacuated.

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Tuesday, August 19th, 2003

The fire is now estimated at 2200 hectares. 95% of the Provincial Park has been consumed by flames. There are now 80 firefighters attacking the blaze and the military is expected to join the fight as well.

40 more homes and 2000 residents have been issued an evacuation alert in the Mission area.

Winds from the north have pushed the fire south toward Naramata. The entire Town is on evacuation alert. Some communication towers on the mountain have been knocked out and the major power line running between Kelowna and Penticton has been shut down.

The fire has been given a level 6 rating, which is the highest rating for a forest fire.

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Wednesday, August 20th, 2003

By morning 6400 hectares were burning. 9 choppers, 30 pieces of heavy equipment and 100 firefighters are on site in a seemingly futile battle to contain the blaze. The army is sending 340 additional soldiers to Vernon.

A state of emergency was been declared by the District of Lake Country. All undeveloped grassland and forested areas within the District were closed to pedestrian, bicycle and motor vehicle traffic until further notice. The Provincial Park has been completely destroyed.

Heavy smoke has blanketed Kelowna. Visibility is a few hundred yards. Breathing has become very difficult and to make matters worse ash is falling like snowflakes.

The fire remains very volatile and completely out of control; it's growth being described as "phenomenal" and unlike anything seen before.

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Thursday, August 21, 2003

The fire is now covering over 17,000 hectares.

The City is covered with a layer of ash. Everything has an eerie orange tinge to it. The sun looks like the end of a burning cigarette. The sky looks like nuclear fallout.

Massive Evacuation: At least 10,000 people have evacuated the city of Kelowna. An alert has also been issued for the entire area south of Mission Creek.

A 16.9 km fire guard is being constructed behind Kettle Valley, Crawford Estates, and East Kelowna subdivisions. 3000 more people have been placed on evacuation alert.

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Friday, August 22, 2003

The fire has jumped a fire guard prompting officials to give immediate evacuation notice to the entire upper Mission area. This includes South Lakeshore Drive, Chute Lake Road, Kettle Valley, Bellevue Creek area, Crawford Estates and as far as Gallagher's Canyon. Thousands of people are streaming out of the area with whatever possessions they can fit into their vehicles. The situation is extremely tense.

City firefighters had to abandon some homes south of Kettle Valley because the inferno was too fierce. The fire has pushed north aggressively along the City boundary, hovering around thousands of homes.

The smoke and ash is intense. People are wearing breathing masks. Evening winds cleared the southern part of the valley of it's dense smoke cloud and revealed the overwhelming blaze threatening the City.

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Saturday, August 23rd, 2003

Kelowna is in absolute chaos. At least 30,000 people, one third of Kelowna's population, have now been evacuated. An additional 15,000 residents are on a one hour evacuation alert. Many people will never go home.

The entire city has been turned upside down; routines long forgotten. Dozens of businesses are donating whatever they can to the evacuee's. There are makeshift sleeping quarters in churches, businesses, and schools.

The south, east and Mission areas of Kelowna are being described as a "war zone". Firefighters are confronted by walls of flames 400 feet high. With winds gusting around 70 km/hour, the fire is advancing over 100 meters per minute.

203 homes have now been confirmed lost in the Kettle Valley, Lakeshore, Chute Lake and Crawford areas. 345 firefighters and over 50 trucks were on the scene fighting tirelessly to save as much property as they could.

Saturday night firefighters were able to actually fight fire. The winds were light and much progress was made.

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Sunday, August 24, 2003

The fire now covers over 19,000 hectares. 244 homes are now confirmed destroyed. 24,000 residents remain on evacuation notice while another 15,000 are on alert as a safety precaution.

The fire is now burning towards Myra Canyon above east Kelowna. Firefighters established fireguards and perpetually bombed the hills with water and retardant but to no avail.

Kelowna Apple Bowl has been transformed into a military headquarters with almost 1000 soldiers stationed for fire battle. The City is covered with fallen ash and the heavy smoke lingers in the air. There are makeshift homes in parking lot's and all local radio, tv and entertainment halted.

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Monday August 25th, 2003

Okanagan Mountain Fire is now 20,000 hectares. There are 600 personnel, 350 military workers, 200 pieces of heavy equipment and 18 helicopters fighting the relentless blaze.

3,600 people in the Mission and adjoining areas returned to their homes but under Evacuation Alert. An estimated 19,400 Kelowna residents still remain out of their homes. Another 21,600 people are under Evacuation Alert. Although conditions are appearing favourable, all Evacuation Alerts remain in effect.

Operators have posted the most recent information on street addresses that have been affected. Residents may view property maps at the Emergency Social Services reception centres.

Farmers are given day passes to enter evacuated areas. Access will only be allowed for Monday, August 25, 2003. Passes will be reassessed daily.

Strong control lines in the north are now set-up. The south portion near Naramata continues to hold. They are mopping up hot spots. For two nights in a row winds were calm and fire fighters were able to keep the fire at bay. Conditions overnight were very smoky but fire fighters continued to knock down spot fires and keep the fire within fire guards.

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Tuesday, August 26th, 2003

The fire is now 40% contained. There is heavy smoke as it moves into the heavy timber areas in Bellevue Canyon. Control lines have been built between the fire and the southern reaches of the city. Fireguards have been placed in front of Kettle Valley Railway trestles.

It was a calm day and night. The fire stayed within fire guards. There were some spot fires in June Springs Road area that were contained.

However, the situation is still volatile. All Evacuation Orders and Alerts are all still in place.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Mountain Park fire is estimated to be 20,100 hectares in size. Resources in place include 850 firefighters, of which 350 are military personnel, 18 helicopters and 250 pieces of heavy equipment.

40% of the fire is contained. Today efforts are being focused on working the control lines and establishing new ones on the eastern portion. There was no significant growth in the fire due to containment lines constructed and lack of wind. The fire spread continues to be away from Kelowna and its homes.

Over the past three days the attack has taken on a markedly different tone, shifting from defense to recovery. The Evacuation Order for the lower Mission has been lifted. Although conditions have been calm for several days, all other Evacuation Orders and Alerts remain in place.

The utility companies are attempting to restore services and other crews are ensuring roadways, parks and private properties are safe before residents return. It is anticipated this restoration will take several days.

Structural fire fighting crews continued to mop up spot fires in the Rim Rock and June Springs areas. The fire activity in the Bellevue Creek draw is not contained. This area is very steep and heavily timbered. The south sector around Chute Lake, Glen Fir and Indian Rock remain stable. The north sector within the affected subdivisions south of Kelowna is also stable. The north east sector around June Springs Road is still active, but control lines are holding at this time.

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Thursday, August 28th, 2003

10,400 residents are allowed to return to their homes.

Penticton reports that the evacuation order for Glen Fir (north of Naramata and Indian Rock, south of the Chute Lake Lodge) has been rescinded. Another 1,338 residents will be able to return home today at noon in the Upper Chute Lake, Southridge, Stonebridge and Summerhill neighborhoods.

The 2,750 residents in the Kettle Valley, Curlew and southern parts of Uplands areas are expected to be return home by 6 pm on Friday.

2,100 Residents of the Gallagher's Canyon and June Springs Road areas within the City of Kelowna boundaries are being allowed to return to their homes.

Air Canada is offering a free trip anywhere in Canada to families in the Kelowna, Penticton and Kamloops areas whose primary residence has been destroyed by fire. This offer allows individuals or families to travel to other parts of the country to stay with family or friends if needed.

City of Kelowna Water Utility officials have confirmed water in the Crawford Estates area is safe to drink. The Boil Water Advisory has been lifted in this area.

101 Navy personnel are preparing to come to Kelowna to help with the mop up. An additional 100 Navy personnel are being assembled to be deployed on short notice if required.

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Friday, August 29th, 2003

The Premier has extended the state of emergency.

The fire is estimated to be 70% contained. Fire fighters have been taking full advantage of the favourable weather conditions over the past few days and have made good progress establishing new and reinforcing existing control lines. Resources in place include 650 firefighters, of which 350 are military personnel, 17 helicopters and 260 pieces of heavy equipment.

Control lines in Bellevue Canyon are holding. Extreme Danger exists due to the instability of trees. Fire fighting crews are still working to mop up hot spots and flare ups.

City of Kelowna officials confirmed water in the Southridge and Stonebridge subdivisions is safe to drink. The Boil Water Advisory remains in place for other evacuees returning to their homes.

Adjusters and insurance company representatives are now permitted to enter all areas affected by the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire in the Regional District of the Central Okanagan and the City of Kelowna.

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Saturday, August 30th, 2003

Very smoky throughout he Central Okanagan.

Fire affected streets will receive unlimited garbage pickup on Monday and Friday. Landfill fees will be waived. There will also be unlimited yard waste collection on September 12th.

All Boil Water Advisories for City of Kelowna Water Utility customers have been removed.

Approximately 70 people remain on Evacuation Order at the southern end of June Springs Road. Temporary re-entry has been granted.

Good progress was made today. Fire crews continue to establish control lines. Work is also continuing on the mop up activities within the established control lines.

Five structural firefighters received non life-threatening injuries after a Saturday evening accident near Naramata. Early reports indicate a fire truck was returning from patrolling spot fires when the vehicle went down an embankment. Two helicopters assisted ambulance paramedics in taking two of the men to Kelowna General Hospital where they are listed in stable condition. Three other firefighters with minor injuries were taken by ambulance to Penticton Hospital.

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Sunday, August 31st, 2003

All the hot spots are high on the mountain with the smoke blowing to the east away from the City. There are reports from across the Central Okanagan of increased fire activity. Flames are clearly visible from all over the city and the fire is burning quickly.

There was water bombing activity throughout the early evening above June Springs Road area.

Winds from the west caused active fire behaviour this afternoon in the upper elevations. As a result, an extreme fire behaviour warning, has been issued.

The Kelowna Volunteer Fire Fighters are selling Okanagan Mountain Park Fire T shirts to raise money for the Kelowna and Area Okanagan Fire Recovery Trust Fund. Grey ball caps commemorating the efforts of the Kelowna Fire Department and the RCMP can be ordered from the RCMP

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Monday, September 1st, 2003

The fire is now covering 20,4000 hectares and only 70% contained. Resources in place include 633 firefighters, 17 helicopters and 200 pieces of heavy equipment. To date, 30,000 people were forced to evacuate and 237 homes were completely leveled by the firestorm.

Aircraft operations which involve ‘water scooping’ have been requested for later this afternoon. As a result of the winds, unstable atmospheric conditions, and extremely dry forest conditions an extreme fire behaviour warning has been issued. A significant increase in fire activity is expected.

The fire moved further on the north side of Bellevue Creek. The spread has brought the front line closer to the metal trestle. Fire officials continue to reassess the fire behavior and identify alternatives to contain the spread in the Bellevue Creek area and to protect the trestle there. Crews are continuing control line construction in the east sector of the fire.

The steep terrain on the south flank continues to pose challenges to the fire fighters, and the fire has moved slowly down the slope towards Vaseux Creek. Mop up activities along the northeast side of the fire remain a priority.

The Kelowna Fire Department, RCMP, Military and BC Forest Service firefighters request the public to stay away from the fire impacted areas. Everyone is reminded that penalties up to $5,000 and/or six months imprisonment may be imposed for interfering with fire control or suppression operations.

The wildfire threat has not gone away. A number of fires were burning above Gallagher's Canyon and June Springs Road last night. The active part of the Okanagan Mountain Park fire is moving east. Control lines are being built near the Kettle Valley Rail trestles to try and protect them.

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Tuesday, September 2nd, 2003

The fire is now 20,900 hectares (51,645 acres) in size. Resources in place include 686 firefighters, 18 helicopters and 176 pieces of heavy equipment. Extensive air support was provided by a Martin Mars air tanker as well as a number of CL-415s. 100 military from Cold Lake joined the fire fight.

Kelowna residents in need of assistance as a result of the recent Okanagan Mountain Park forest fire now have a central place to access recovery information. Several telephone lines are being installed to answer questions.

Residents who live outside the City’s eastern boundary at the south end of June Springs Road will be permitted temporary re-entry to their homes today. The fire is still estimated at 70 per cent contained.

The Dutton Creek Canyon area still presents a problem for reinforcing the control line due to large amount of dry fuels on the ground, steep terrain and canyon walls.

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Wednesday, September 3rd, 2003

The fire is now 21,000 hectares in size and remains rated category 6. Resources in place include 686 firefighters, 18 helicopters and 176 pieces of heavy equipment. 100 Navy personnel from Esquimalt arrived today.

Due to increased fire activity an Evacuation Order was issued to the Gallagher's Canyon and Joe Rich residents. Approximately 9,250 residents in these areas remain under Evacuation Alert.

Very active fire behaviour between Bellevue Creek and Myra Canyon. Air tankers are applying retardant to the active fire front.

Control lines on the south, southeast, north and northeast sectors are holding well..The weather conditions remain hot and dry with no chance of precipitation.

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Thursday, September 4th, 2003

The fire is now 22,840 hectares in size. Resources in place include 650 firefighters, 19 helicopters and 197 pieces of heavy equipment.

The Kettle Valley Railway trestles have been damaged. Five trestles have been destroyed.

9,600 residents in the Belgo, Black Mountain, and Toovey Heights areas were put on Evacuation Alert bringing the total number on Evacuation Alert to 15,100.

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Friday, September 5th, 2003

The fire is now 23,600 hectares. 650 firefighters, 22 helicopters, 200 pieces of heavy equipment are working the blaze.

Approximately 3,200 people remain under Evacuation Order and 15,000 remain on Alert. Day passes for people in most areas under Evacuation Order are being issued today.

Myra Canyon is too difficult for fire fighters to operate in. Operations are limited due to the extremely rugged terrain and volatile fire conditions.

Six wooden trestles have been lost and two others have been damaged.

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Saturday, September 6th, 2003

The fire is now 24,000 hectares. Resources in place include 650 firefighters, 20 helicopters and 200 pieces of heavy equipment. The 400 hectares of fire spread over the last twenty-four hours has been mainly along the eastern perimeter in the upper elevations.

Officials confirmed that more Myra Canyon trestles were destroyed bringing the total to nine destroyed and two damaged. The remaining trestles continue to be at risk. Bucketing with helicopters was used extensively to protect the remaining trestles along the Kettle Valley Railway.

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Sunday, September 7th, 2003

The fire is 25,300 hectares in size. Resources in place include 650 firefighters, 20 helicopters and 200 pieces of heavy equipment. Additional air support is being provided by air tankers. The fire remained active today and is still burning as rank 5 or 6.

Another 990 residents of South East Kelowna were evacuated from their homes early this morning as the Okanagan Mountain Park fire flared up again. The order affected 329 properties and approximately 990 people, bringing the new total of residents on Evacuation Order to 4,230.

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Monday, September 8th, 2003

The fire grew 300 hectares in the past 24 hour now consuming 25,600 hectares (256 square kilometers). Resources in place include 650 firefighters, 20 helicopters and 200 pieces of heavy equipment.

4,250 residents affected by the Evacuation Orders are now able to return to their homes. The fire is moving primarily in an easterly direction and does not threaten any residential areas.

The Kelowna Fire Department is in the process of scaling down the number of out of town trucks and crews on standby.

Rain showers over the fire area have provided much needed relief for the fire fighters. This period of cool, moist weather will allow crews to re establish control lines and reinforce existing ones.

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Tuesday, September 9th, 2003

The cooler and moist weather has enabled fire crews to make good progress establishing and securing control lines. The fire remained stable overnight with no significant spread. With the stable weather conditions crews and equipment have been able to work closer to the fire’s edge. While air tankers and helicopter bucketing help cool and slow the fire spread, it is the on-the-ground crews that will actually contain and put the fire out.

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Wednesday, September 10th, 2003

Favourable weather conditions have assisted fire fighting efforts. Containment on the fire is now estimated to be 80%.

The fire is now fully encircled with a 220 km control line around it now. The fire spread very little yesterday. Fire officials predict 2 more good days of fire fighting with weather conditions.

The process of rebuilding the Kettle Valley Rail Trail through historic Myra Canyon and area has begun. The Kelowna and Area Okanagan Fire Recovery Trust Fund now has a sub-account specifically for the Myra Canyon Trestle Restoration.

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Thursday, September 11th, 2003

600 firefighters and 12 helicopters are still working the fire

The Water Boil Advisories for the Black Mountain Irrigation and South East Kelowna Irrigation Districts has been lifted.

The fire has now cleared Myra Canyon - so it is unlikely that other Trestles will be destroyed. Only four wooden trestles remain. The wood decks on the metal trestles have been burned off.

Fire crews aren't reporting any fire flare ups due to winds. Winds have now quieted.

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Friday, September 12th, 2003

The fire remains stable. Fire crews have made good progress encircling it with containment lines. The fire has not challenged or breached containment lines

All Evacuation Alerts in place were rescinded this afternoon. Approximately 18,000 people had been on Evacuation Alert. The fire poses no imminent danger to residential neighbourhoods.

Plans are underway to de-activate the Emergency Operations Centre. Some provincial parks and protected areas, will remain closed until further notice.

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Saturday, September 13th, 2003

The fire is considered to be 90% contained, smoldering and not very active. The rain overnight and today should continue to help.

575 forest fighters and 10 Helicopters remain fighting the blaze. The Armed Forces have now been released from fire duty and will be going home tomorrow. At the peak there were 2,000 soldiers here helping fight the blaze.

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Sunday, September 14th, 2003

The fire is 90% contained. The 10% of the fire not contained is in the Myra and Bellevue Canyons. The fire may not be fully extinguished in that area until winter.

There are now 8 helicopters, 100 pieces of heavy equipment and 400 firefighters working the fire. The number of firefighters is expected to drop to 200 on Wednesday.

Fire crews are doing mop up runs around the perimeter of the fire.

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