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Old 08-22-2003, 06:57 PM   #1
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Normal It's Official# Fire

Forest fires are ravaging through my home province of BC.



My friend's family have been evacuated from their home. Please send your thoughts and prayers to those fighting the fires and those affected by the fire. Such a careless act has destroyed beautiful BC and many homes. It's very sad.

Firefighters at Kelowna blaze have never seen similar conditions: fire chief

KELOWNA, B.C. (CP) - Firefighters battling a huge inferno that's eaten into this Okanagan city's southwestern suburbs have never dealt with these types of fire conditions before, Kelowna fire chief Gerry Zimmerman said Friday.

"This is something that we've never seen before," Zimmerman said the morning after 10,000 people were routed from their homes when the Okanagan Mountain Park fire jumped a fire guard.

Initial reports estimated 25 homes were destroyed but Friday morning the figure was reduced to 15 houses.

"We were in the middle of changing crews and (the fire) turned around so quick and we had a run," said Zimmerman, holding back tears. "We've had crews in there for 24-26 hours."

Overnight the fire, sparked by a lightning strike last Saturday, grew to an estimated 170 square kilometres.


Another 3,000-4,000 people were put on evacuation alert Friday morning.

In all, about 12,500 people have been forced to flee a half-dozen major fires threatening southern Interior communities.

About 1,000 were evacuated near Chase, about 50 kilometres east of Kamloops, and hundreds remain out of their homes from month-old fires north of Kamloops. Earlier this month, the McLure-Barriere fire incinerated the village of Louis Creek, including dozens of houses and mobile homes, and a sawmill that was the area's major employer.

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell, who declared a provincial state of emergency Aug., 2, toured the devastated region by air Friday for the second time in a month, accompanied by Vancouver MP Stephen Owen, minister of state for Western Diversification.

"The fire has been growing in really reckless, volatile and erratic directions so it's very difficult for (firefighters) to project what's going to happen," said Campbell. "I'd like Mother Nature to help us out here."

Campbell said he was not visiting the stricken area to offer a magic solution but to support the professionals dealing with the emergency.

"I want to be there for them when they need me," he said. "I want citizens to know we're there for them as much as we can be in ways that will give them support and comfort as they go through what must be an incredibly wrenching time for everyone."

Defence Minister John McCallum, responsible for federal emergency measures programs, was scheduled to arrive in Kelowna on Friday evening.

About 15 homes in the Rimrock-Timberline suburb of Kelowna had burned by Friday morning but 17 others were spared, said Zimmerman.

White ash blanketed the street outside the Kelowna fire hall Friday morning, while helicopters flew overhead and about a dozen tired firefighters were sleeping on the grass.

Residents were ordered out on short notice Thursday night to the wail of sirens as the fast-moving fire closed on fringe subdivisions.

"It was fast, it was very fast," said Karen Cairns, a regional emergency official, describing how quickly officials moved to evacuate homes in Okanagan Mission, Oakview, Kettle Valley and Uplands.

Crews raced door to door, alerting people of the danger.

An evacuation alert was issued earlier in the week as the mushrooming fire in Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park inched closer to the outskirts of Kelowna, about a 20 minute drive from the city's downtown.

Late Thursday evening the blaze jumped a fire guard near a residential area, prompting the evacuation order, said Cairns.

Evacuees were directed to two emergency reception centres set up downtown, where Cairns said officials would work out their lodgings. She expected a number would stay with friends and family.

Among those evacuees was Sindi Hawkins, the B.C. health planning minister, said Campbell.

Many evacuees were in shock because earlier news reports Thursday said the fire's position seemed to be holding steady, said a man who arrived at a reception centre.

"I guess there is shock right now when the police come to your door and tell you to go," said Jon Carlson.

"We feel lucky because we have insurance, but, you know, it's your home. It's a nightmare."

About 1,000 residents of the lakeshore town of Naramata, in the path of the fire's southern front, were also on evacuation alert.

Thick smoke choked Kelowna's 100,000 residents and at times obscured the view of Okanagan Lake.

Part of the fire's growth was due to a controlled burnoff to try and deny bone-dry fuel to the fire, said fire officials.

About 110 firefighters and 11 helicopters were working to control the blaze.

A fleet of 50 bulldozers and other pieces of heavy equipment had been trying to build a fire guard around the blaze's northern edge.

More than 3,000 firefighers from B.C. and elsewhere in Canada were battling more than 825 fires in the province.

More than 1,000 Canadian soldiers, regulars and reservists are either on the fire lines or en route, the largest peacetime deployment in British Columbia since floods ravaged the Fraser Valley in the late 1940s.

Bone dry conditions in the southern half of British Columbia prompted the B.C. government to issue a voluntary travel advisory, asking people to avoid the southern B.C. backcountry.

Many Vancouver-area suburban parks have been closed and a smoking ban imposed in parched city parks such as the famed Stanley Park in downtown Vancouver.

Vancouver also upgraded water restrictions Friday, with a ban on lawn-sprinkling and a plea for people not to wash their cars or pressure-wash their homes. Local reservoirs were below 50 per cent of normal levels.
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Old 08-22-2003, 06:59 PM   #2
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Old 08-22-2003, 07:01 PM   #3
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Mother Nature started this one, but a few weeks ago a carelessly tossed cigarette destroyed 1,000 of acres and many homes.
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Old 08-22-2003, 07:03 PM   #4
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that's horrible.

they're all certainly in my prayers.



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Old 08-22-2003, 07:53 PM   #5
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That's where MichaelGriffiths lives....

I will be in BC (vancouver) in one week!

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Old 08-22-2003, 08:11 PM   #6
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Old 08-22-2003, 08:27 PM   #7
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Oh sure Zoney. Go to Vancouver when I move to the other side of the country.
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Old 08-22-2003, 08:31 PM   #8
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so scary...



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Old 08-22-2003, 08:34 PM   #9
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Wow, this picture is incredible..........

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Old 08-22-2003, 08:36 PM   #10
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oK, last one....... It's just mind blowing.......

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Old 08-22-2003, 08:37 PM   #11
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ya its terrible. i know someone who's going to kelowna this weekend for baseball, i wonder what will happen to that.
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Old 08-22-2003, 08:38 PM   #12
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that does seem to be terrible indeed
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Old 08-22-2003, 09:01 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by Angel
Oh sure Zoney. Go to Vancouver when I move to the other side of the country.
Never fear...I will get to your new Canadian city soon. It is on my "shortlist" of places to visit.

I e-mailed MichaelGriffiths...I hope he is alright.
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Old 08-22-2003, 09:25 PM   #14
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Me too. Let us know if you hear from him. I haven't talked to him in awhile.
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Old 08-23-2003, 12:02 AM   #15
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Old 08-23-2003, 01:05 AM   #16
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whoa



hopefully this will be put out with as little damage to property and loss of life and injury as possible
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Old 08-23-2003, 01:45 AM   #17
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Property damage is inevitable.

My Aunt has already lost her house.

Anyways, I'd just like to thank whatever electrical storm or hillbilly camper started these fires... the run-off smoke clouds are just delightful to inhale on a daily basis.

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Old 08-23-2003, 01:49 AM   #18
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angel

that's so scary

i hope you and your friends and everyone else are ok
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Old 08-23-2003, 01:52 AM   #19
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griffiths is actually in vancouver this week, so he himself is safe


i know he doesn't live right IN kelowna, so i sure hope his house is ok


definately my prayers are with BC people.
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Old 08-23-2003, 02:29 AM   #20
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fires

Praying for rain.

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