Blue Line

Kelowna Mounties assisting with evacuation efforts as crews battle wildfire

July 2, 2023  By The Canadian Press

July 2, 2023, Kelowna, B.C. – A wildfire on Knox Mountain in Kelowna, B.C. that spurred the evacuation of more than 400 properties Saturday afternoon is now being held.

Evacuation orders had been issued for the Magic Estates and Poplar Point areas of Kelowna covering a total of 448 properties, but the orders were later downgraded to alerts, meaning residents needed to be ready to leave again at a moment’s notice.

An update on the B.C. Wildfire Service website said human activity is the suspected cause of the Knox Mountain fire.

Cpl. Judith Bertrand with the Kelowna RCMP said police assisted fire crews with the evacuation to ensure public safety and that winds made the direction of the fire hard to predict.


“The Magic Estates area is quite a dense residential area,” Bertrand said in an interview. “In addition to that, the park is visited by a lot of people that are celebrating Canada Day, visiting, hiking, so we need to make sure that these people are safe.”

The City of Kelowna closed Knox Mountain Park until further notice

Bertand said people had to be evacuated as fire suppression efforts were underway, cautioning those in the area to not to get too close as smoke billowed into the sky above Okanagan Lake.

She said Kelowna deals with the prospect of wildfires every summer and they’re “always in the back of our mind here in the Okanagan region.”

“However, we have to act fast, we have to work in a co-ordinated effort with our partner agencies to make sure that things unfold as safe and as quickly as possible,” she said.

This year’s wildfire season has been particularly devastating elsewhere in B.C., with more than 9,620 square kilometres burned since April 1, said Pedro Roldan-Delgado, a fire information officer with the Prince George Fire Centre.

Roldan-Delgado said the province has dealt with 214 wildfires since April, putting this year’s wildfire season on track to vastly exceed the area burned last year.

In the 2022 season, he said, there were 247 wildfires that burned just over 590 square kilometres.

He said the fire centre is currently dealing with 68 active wildfires, as lightning strikes and dry conditions spark new blazes.

The Ittsi Creek wildfire north of Fort Nelson has shut down part of Highway 77 near the B.C. boundary with the Northwest Territories, and Roldan-Delgado said crews are waiting to see “if that fire will impact the highway more and they will start actioning it if it does.”

Pedro-Delgado said the fire centre is managing the situation as best it can with its limited resources in a season that started months earlier than normal.

“We have seen quite a crazy spring season to have these kind of numbers,” he said. “In our world, things can change so drastically within a few hours that it could go from busy to quiet within like a day or two.”

He said people need to follow all fire bans because “the public can do their part with preventing and reporting wildfires.”

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