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Saturday, 2003 August 23


B.C. forest fire claims 200 homes

26,000 residents already forced out in Okanagan area

Thousands more on alert to flee advancing flames


Daniel Girard



VANCOUVER—Sue Daley awoke at a friend's house in Kelowna yesterday to blue skies, calm breezes and neighbours jogging — sights and sounds of a typical British Columbia summer day.


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Saturday, 2003 August 23


Upward of 203 homes lost as wildfire tears through Kelowna suburbs


Carol Harrington


Canadian Press


KELOWNA, B.C. (CP) - An estimated 203 homes have been torched as a relentless wildfire advanced into the southern suburbs of this Okanagan city. "Last night was probably the roughest night in Kelowna firefighting history I would say," city fire chief Gerry Zimmerman told a media briefing Saturday. "We got hammered pretty good."

"These losses are staggering," but Zimmerman stressed that the number of homes lost was only preliminary and that the tally is likely to change.

The chief said an aerial survey was being conducted Saturday and that photographs would be posted so that anxious homeowners can determine if their houses had survived the inferno.


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Saturday, 2003 August 23


20,000 flee Kelowna homes

Out-of-control fire threatens suburbs


William Boei; with files from Matthew Ramsey, Jeff Lee, Amy O'Brian, Peter O'Neil and Doug Alexander


Vancouver Sun


At least 20,000 Kelowna residents were forced to flee from their homes Friday night as a wind-driven forest fire flared further out of control and threatened to engulf the southern suburbs of the Okanagan's largest city.


While Kelowna was B.C. worst hot spot, strong winds from the southwest were gusting everywhere from the Fraser Canyon through the Kamloops region and the Okanagan, fanning the flames on the north edges of most fires. The provincial forest service was braced for the most critical night of the fire season.


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Saturday, 2003 August 23


Upscale houses burn: 'There is nothing left'


Amy O'Brian


Vancouver Sun


KELOWNA -- In a flash of flames, smoke and explosions, they were gone.

Fifteen high-priced, recently built homes on the southern edge of Kelowna's city boundaries were engulfed by the rapidly moving Okanagan Mountain Park fire Thursday night, leaving a ghostly scene of devastation.

By Friday afternoon, the hillside where the homes stood less than 24 hours earlier was a barren wasteland littered with flaming hot-spots, deep banks of smoking ash and the skeletal remains of chimneys and concrete foundations. The fire left the houses in its wake as it moved steadily Friday toward more densely populated areas of the city.


"They are totally destroyed," Kelowna Fire Chief Gerry Zimmerman said of the homes. "There is no in-between. There is nothing left."


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B) Rotor Pilot

I am just waiting till they make me move out of my house. I can see the fire but it is still a long way from where I live, they keep putting alert area closer and closer. I would love to be out there slinging water at this two head monster.

204B Driver

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Hope everything is working out for you guys in the Okanagan, the images of the fires that I have seen are horrendous.


Who flew Jean Chretien around the scene? I can't imagine he flew in a military EH-101, or did he?


Hope they get everything under control there soon.

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Who flew Jean Chretien around the scene? I can't imagine he flew in a military EH-101, or did he?


Looks more like a Griffin, from the photos





Sure hope the guys from Alpine Helicopters are all well, talk about local ops ;)

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Monday, 2003 August 25 - Page A1


'Get out! Get out now!'

The Okanagan Valley resembles a war zone with charred forests, licking flames and tired firefighters.


By Mark Hume



OKANAGAN VALLEY -- On a weekend that made some wonder if the end of the world were coming, when a series of forest fires raced out of control from one end of the Okanagan Valley to another and lightning crashed above Kelowna's burning suburbs, there was heroism and fear everywhere.


Racing along the ragged edge of three fires that were burning from Okanagan Falls to Kelowna, and crossing behind the lines into what fire crews are calling the war zone, a 32-hour tour presented a jumble of startling images.


Outside Okanagan Falls, where a fire roared up from the shores of Vaseux Lake, storming a cliff 50 metres high within seconds, an RCMP officer sped along a country road, shouting frantically from her patrol car at people: "Get out! Get out now!"


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Monday, 2003 August 25 - Page A1


Stalked by an inferno


By Paul Sullivan


British Columbia is burning.


It's the worst fire season in 50 years. So says the Premier, who declared a state of emergency Aug. 2, and it only gets hotter.

The numbers are staggering. There are 825 fires burning in the province right now, more than 600 of them in the Kamloops/Kelowna area. Thousands of hectares have burned, and hundreds of homes have been razed. Thousands of people on the southeast edge of Kelowna have been evacuated. The 10,000-hectare Okanagan Mountain Park has been consumed. It has cost a record $170-million to fight this season's fires, and this season is far from over. As this is written, there are a few sprinkles of rain in the forecast, but also thundershowers and the threat of lightning. But the forecast also calls for more sunny, hot, dry weather, at least until Labour Day.


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Monday, 2003 August 25 - Page A1


Kelowna counts the cost


Raging forest fires destroy hundreds of homes, leave others unscathed as 3,000 allowed to return - for now


By Jane Armstrong


KELOWNA, B.C. -- For the lucky ones, there was relief such as they've never felt. But hundreds of others left a Kelowna church grim-faced and in tears, clutching maps that delivered final proof that their homes had been destroyed by a forest fire.

City officials summoned more than 600 people to a downtown United Church yesterday afternoon, two days after a forest fire raced though this Okanagan city, razing 244 houses and driving more than 20,000 people from their homes.

Yesterday, calm winds and lower temperatures gave firefighters some leeway as they battled the blaze, which now covers nearly 190 square kilometres. No new damage has been reported since Friday's night's unprecedented destruction.


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Monday, 2003 August 25 - Page A4


Tony homes incinerated by voracious Kelowna fire


Only way officials could tabulate damage was to count neighbourhood's driveways


By Jane Armstrong


KELOWNA, B.C. -- In the smoking rubble of a once-grand Kelowna neighbourhood is the storyline of a forest fire that raced up a wooded hillside and tore into a subdivision.

It danced across lawns and swerved from one side of the street to the other, devouring some homes, sparing others.

On winding Westridge Drive, the half-million-dollar houses that line the east side of the street are intact. Across the road, a string of houses are gone, incinerated by a firestorm that roared through Kelowna's southern hills Friday night, destroying 244 homes.


Fire officials had to count driveways Saturday morning to tabulate the damage.


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Monday, 2003 August 25 - Page A6


Chrétien visits fire site, lauds efforts 'of the people'

Prime Minister promises aid for residents hit by weekend of devastating wildfires


By Mark Hume


KELOWNA, B.C. -- After flying in a military helicopter over the suburbs where 244 homes were destroyed by a forest fire over the weekend, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien promised disaster relief and praised people for their courage.


"I'm amazed by the spirit of the people," Mr. Chrétien said after touring a temporary housing centre and a firehall.


He said the scenes of devastation along Kelowna's southeastern edge startled him.

"It's so big," he said of the Okanagan Mountain fire, which burned its way into Kelowna's subdivisions after consuming nearly 20,000 hectares of forest. "And it's so unpredictable". We flew over areas where two dozen houses were destroyed and two or three stood up and they were a few hundred feet away.

"The forest has been gone. Everything. It must have been a terrible thing."


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Monday, 2003 August 25


Evacuees' despair turns into anger


Brian Hutchinson


National Post


KELOWNA, B.C. - This is either the aftermath, or the calm before another terrifying firestorm. The uncertainty has pushed this city's inhabitants, one-quarter of whom are now evacuees, to the brink of nervous breakdown.

Fires still burn around Kelowna. They are persistent blazes, fuelled by tonnes of felled timber, dead grass and towering Ponderosa pines that combust like dried twigs soaked in gasoline.


Flames lick the high ridges behind the city, to the east, north, and south, and continue to creep around the scene of Friday's mass destruction, near the affluent south Kelowna suburb of Mission, where about 245 homes were obliterated. Incinerated.


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Fire-ravaged B.C. to get aid

Governments will 'help the people,' Chrétien promises

Thousands allowed to return home as firefighters make gains


Daniel Girard

Western Canada Bureau


KELOWNA, B.C.—Prime Minister Jean Chrétien offered weary residents moral support — and federal dollars to rebuild — after flying over the fire-ravaged Okanagan Valley.

"We will find the money," Chrétien said after a helicopter flight over parts of the massive Okanagan Mountain Park fire, which has destroyed more than 240 homes here.

"When we have a disaster we don't say: 'We don't have the money,'" he said, likening it to the Saguenay or Winnipeg floods or the ice storm that hit Quebec and eastern Ontario. "We have to face that reality."


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2003 August 25 13:40:30


Calm day gives Kelowna firefighters a break


By Allison Dunfield

Globe and Mail Update


Firefighters are getting another break Monday in the Kelowna-area blaze — the second day in a row marked by cooler temperatures and lighter winds.

The calm skies decreased the danger enough Sunday night to allow 3,600 people on evacuation orders to return to their homes, Carol Suhan, an information officer with the emergency operations centre in Kelowna, told globeandmail.com.

"We've now had two whole nights of calm winds and cool temperatures. It really has been [helpful] at keeping the fire down and at bay," she said. "[However] we still have about 20,000 on [evacuation] order and 26,000 on alert," Ms. Suhan said.


Some facts about wildfires raging across the B.C. Interior as of Sunday:


Number of fires: 834; 658 caused by lightning, 176 by people.


Largest fire: Chilko Lake, 290 square kilometres, 100 per cent contained.


Most threatening: Okanagan Mountain Park, 196 square kilometres, between Kelowna and Naramata; McLure-Barriere fire, 260 square kilometres, north of Kamloops; McGillvray fire, 83 square kilometres, west of Chase.


Area burned: About 1,780 square kilometres since April 1.


Evacuees: About 23,000, most from Kelowna area.


Firefighters: About 3,200, including 400 from other provinces (varying due to reassignments) and 1,150 military personnel.


Cost of battle: $169.4-million total to date, about $6 million a day.


Fires elsewhere in Canada




Current fires: 13, one out of control, though fire crews expect to have it under control by Sunday night.


Largest fire: Lost Creek. Now under control after 31 days, 211 square kilometres.




Current fires: 16, 585 fires so far this year, down significantly from last year's 864.




Current fires: 76, three out of control.


Largest fire: Near Split Lake. Estimated at 450 square kilometres. Split Lake one-hour evacuation alert lifted Saturday.




Current fires: 37, three out of control. About 190 firefighters in B.C. fighting fires. Another 77 to arrive on Monday, 45 more on Tuesday.


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2003 August 25 13:40:30


Kelowna waits as fire battle continues


KELOWNA, B.C. - While thousands more people are returning to their homes in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley, officials continue to warn the fires are not fully under control.


Almost 3,600 people returned to their homes on Sunday night and Monday morning. Earlier, about 3,000 people were allowed back.


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