Elevated hearth exercise at Brenda Creek blaze on Sunday – West Kelowna Information

Photo: BCWS

Fire behaviour increased Sunday at the Brenda Creek wildfire burning west of West Kelowna.

In a Sunday night update, the BC Wildfire Service says overall fire growth was minimal, however. The fire continues to be estimated at 824 hectares in size.

It is burning out of control south of the Okanagan Connector.

Five firefighters remained on site overnight to monitor the fire and protect high-value features.

Crews continue to work on reinforcement of guard lines and mop up under sections of the BC Hydro power line.

A high-volume water delivery system that was in place to protect the transmission line has been demobilized due to decreased risk.

On Sunday, crews continued to reinforce sections of guard line on the northwest corner of the fire by burning off the fuel between the guard and the fire with small, hand ignition operations.

An increase in fire activity may occur in the coming days as hot, dry and windy conditions are expected to persist. No precipitation is anticipated in the near future. These conditions will continue to challenge fire suppression efforts, the wildfire service says.

Forty-three properties remain under evacuation order, along with Eneas Lakes, Pennask Lake, Trepanier, and Pennask Creek provincial parks, and recreational camping areas northwest of Peachland.

Forty-six firefighters were assigned to the fire on Sunday, supported by four helicopters and 19 pieces of heavy equipment.

Seventeen firefighters from six different fire departments are also working on structure protection.

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Photo: Contributed

UPDATE 11:15 a.m.

The Brenda Creek fire is now listed at an estimated 824 hectares in size, up from 662 hectares yesterday.

It remains out of control.

ORIGINAL 8:28 a.m.

The weather could reverse some of the progress made fighting the Brenda Creek wildfire, burning south of the Okanagan Connector, west of West Kelowna.

The BC Wildfire Service says temperatures will be warmer in the coming days, which could lead to increased fire activity. A forecast high-pressure system has moved to the north, and strong winds may occur. That could challenge guard lines that crews have been working to build.

They are continuing to reinforce guard line sections on the northwest corner of the fire, by burning off fuel between the guard and the fire.

Helicopters are also expected to continue dropping water onto hotspots today and will be dipping into nearby lakes.

The most active part of the fire was near the southwest flank, where fire behaviour continues to threaten the BC Hydro transmission line.

A high volume water delivery system has been set up to protect the line. It can be turned on quickly if the flames get too close.

So far, the transmission line that carries power to West Kelowna, the Westbank First Nation, and Peachland remains operational.

Photo: Facebook

Bradley Furman

A former West Kelowna teacher convicted of having a sexual relationship with a student will be granted statutory release next month, after he’s been living at a halfway house since March.

Bradley Furman was handed a 38-month jail sentence in February 2020 after he pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation, attempting to pervert justice, and three counts of breaching his bail conditions for carrying on a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student, even after he was initially arrested. With credit for time served, he was left with close to two years and three months left on his sentence

After serving 13 months of his sentence, the former Mount Boucherie Secondary teacher was granted parole in March, and he began living at a community residential facility – or halfway house. The location of the facility was not disclosed by the Parole Board of Canada.

But on Aug. 3, Furman will be released from the halfway house on statutory release. Inmates are automatically granted statutory release after serving two-thirds of their sentence, but special conditions can be placed on individuals after they are released.

In a recent Parole Board of Canada decision, the board imposed a number of these conditions on Furman’s release.

These include not being in the presence of any females under the age of 18 unless with an approved adult, no accessing the internet without approved supervision, no contacting the victim or her family and reporting any relationships with females to his parole supervisor.

Furman’s most recent psychological assessment from December 2020 found he was a low risk to reoffend sexually, although he was found to require a moderate need for improvement in the areas of “personal/emotional orientation and attitude.”

“During your incarceration your behaviour has been described as satisfactory,” the Parole Board said in its recent decision. “You are assessed as having high motivation and reintegration potential, and medium accountability.”

When released from the halfway house on Aug. 3, Furman plans to reside in the same area, although where that is remains unclear. He plans to continue working full time at an undisclosed job. Furman was handed a lifetime teaching ban earlier this year.

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Photo: BCWS

UPDATE 8:40 p.m.

The Thompson Nicola Regional District has lifted its evacuation alert related to the Brenda Creek wildfire.

The TNRD was one of three regional districts with orders or alerts in place due to the wildfire burning near Brenda Mines.

The TNRD lifted the alerts for three large rural properties Saturday evening and the surrounding area.

An evacuation order and alert for the Headwaters Lake area issued by the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen and an evacuation alert for the area within the Central Okanagan is still in place.

The 662 hectare fire has so far not impacted BC Hydro’s lines in the area, which is the utility’s only link to West Kelowna.

“A mass water delivery system is now in place to protect the section of the transmission line within the fire perimeter. This delivery system consists of a four-inch hose line that supplies a series of larger sprinklers,” BCWS said Saturday.

“A specialized high-volume pump supplies water to the line, which can be turned on quickly if the threat to the transmission line increases due to increased fire activity. Four firefighters and three support staff remained on site last night to monitor the fire and protect high value features.”

ORIGINAL 6:35 a.m.

Fire behaviour was relatively calm Friday on the Brenda Creek wildfire burning south of the Okanagan Connector, west of West Kelowna.

In a Friday night update, the BC Wildfire Service says the most active portion of the fire was near the southwest flank, but fire growth was minimal.

The fire remains estimated at 662 hectares in size.

Crews continued to reinforce sections of guard line on the northwest corner of the fire by burning off fuel between the guard and the fire with small, hand ignition operations.

Helicopters were used to bucket water on hotspots and will continue today.

Four firefighters and three support staff remained on site overnight to monitor the fire and protect high-value features.

Crews will continue with mop up along the transmission line today.

Temperatures are expected to be warmer in the coming days, which may result in increased fire activity. Winds will be calmer, which may result in poor venting, smoky skies and reduced visibility for aircraft.

A high-volume water delivery system is in place to protect the section of the transmission line within the fire perimeter. The delivery system consists of a four-inch hose line that supplies a series of larger sprinklers. A specialized high-volume pump supplies water to the line, which can be turned on quickly if the threat to the transmission line increases.

Forty-three firefighters, four helicopters and 16 pieces of heavy equipment worked on the fire Friday. They are supported by 34 additional staff, including a BCWS Incident Management Team.

Structure protection is one home and the power line, supported by 16 firefighters from four different local fire departments, who are making good progress on extinguishing fire along the transmission line.

Rob Gibson – Jul 23, 2021 / 3:00 pm | Story: 340893

Photo: RDCO

UPDATE: 3 p.m.

The City of Kelowna has joined other Central Okanagan jurisdictions in banning barbeques and other cooking implements from city parks.

The ban, implemented by the city Friday, is similar to restrictions put in place by the Regional District of Central Okanagan, Westbank First Nation, West Kelowna, Peachland and Lake Country.

“We’ve had some scares and close calls recently where small fires have been quickly extinguished or narrowly avoided,” says parks manager Blair Stewart.

“We need people in Kelowna to be extra vigilant when it comes to fire prevention and, in that spirit, we’re taking the step to ban portable, propane-fueled barbeques from our parks.”

The barbeque ban is on top of open fires, smoking and using motorized vehicles off road which are always in place.

“We need people to be extra vigilant because conditions are so dry that even the smallest spark can lead to a fire,” said Fire Chief Travis Whiting.

“I really can’t overstate the level of fire risk Kelowna and the whole Okanagan currently faces.”

If hot, dry conditions persist, and residents don’t comply with the stiffer regulations, the city says the next step would be to restrict access to parks, or close them altogether.

ORIGINAL: 2:10 p.m.

If you were planning on having a barbecue at an RDCO park or Westbank First Nation Land, you’ll have to make another plan.

Bruce Smith spokesperson for the RDCO tells Castanet, “given the extremely dry conditions and high to extreme fire danger, effective immediately all barbeques are prohibited in RDCO regional and community parks.”

The ban includes charcoal and briquette barbeques which are never allowed in RDCO parks and now includes, propane-fueled barbeques and the ban will remain in effect until further notice.

A similar ban has also been implemented within Westbank First Nation’s (WFN) public parks and beaches. The ban on propane barbecues is in addition to the campfire ban which is in place for the entire province of B.C..

Visitors are also reminded that smoking, vaping, fires or open flames are not allowed any time in regional parks or RDCO community parks.

If you see a fire in any of our parks, immediately call 9-1-1 to report it.

Smith says, “new signs advising of the barbeque prohibition are being installed within the RDCO park system. Violating the Regional Parks or RDCO Community Parks bylaws could result in a fine. However, the greater danger is that violators could be responsible for starting a serious blaze that threatens our parks, amenities and nearby residents and homes.”

There are more than 2,100 hectares of parkland available to discover in 30 regional and 20 RDCO community parks.

Photo: BC Wildfire Service

Brenda Creek wildfire on July 23.

UPDATE: 2:35 p.m.

There continues to be good news coming from the fire line at the Brenda Creek wildfire, burning south of the Okanagan Connector.

During a livestreamed update Friday afternoon, a spokesperson for the BC Wildfire Service said fire activity has slowed significantly at the large wildfire, which is still pegged at 662 hectares.

“There’s wispy white smoke, which for us as firefighters, it’s a really good indicator and sign that there’s not a lot of hot fire activity in that area,” said Dennis Rexin, BC Wildfire Service’s incident commander for the Okanagan complex.

“It is looking really good in there.”

Rexin noted they’ve been using “mass-water delivery” sprinkler systems to protect the main BC Hydro power line in the area, which is the sole power source for 60,000 homes, as well as for protecting vacation homes in on Headwaters Lake.

“That has been very successful, and it can be operated at night when we’ve been seeing that activity … where helicopters are not able to support us under those power lines, especially at night,” Rexin said.

He added they’re very cognizant of protecting the watershed in the area for the residents of Peachland.

Rexin noted the Peachland Creek drainage has been challenging to access in the past week.

“There’s significant danger in the Peachland Creek drainage for our wildland firefighters to establish safe access and egress and the ability to provide containment on that incident,” he said.

“So as we’ve got good conditions and appropriate precautions and anchor points in place, we will be going direct into the Peachland Creek to create containment lines and mop up.”

UPDATE: 10:15 a.m.

Fire activity at the Brenda Creek wildfire slowed Thursday night, allowing fire crews to make even more progress protecting the nearby BC Hydro line.

The BC Wildfire Service said Friday morning that the fire’s behaviour slowed down through the evening, limiting fire growth, and the “high-volume water system” that’s been in place to protect the power line was only required intermittently.

“Crews were able to begin mop up along the transmission line,” the BCWS says.

In addition to the 43 BCWS firefighters and four helicopters working on the fire, 16 firefighters from four local municipal fire departments are making “good progress” protecting the power line.

The BC Hydro line is the sole power line that delivers electricity to more than 60,000 homes in Peachland, West Kelowna and Westbank First Nation.

The fire’s size remains estimated at 662 hectares.

ORIGINAL: 6:05 a.m.

Fire crews made good progress Thursday on fighting the Brenda Creek wildfire along the power line that serves West Kelowna.

Crews continued to reinforce sections of guard line on the northwest corner of the fire by burning off fuel between the guard and the fire with small, hand ignition operations. Southwest winds were consistent all day, causing an increase in activity and some growth to the southeast.

The fire continues to burn out of control south of the Okanagan Connector and is estimated at 662 hectares in size.

Helicopters were used Thursday to bucket water on to hotspots, and will continue today, the BC Wildfire Service said in a Thursday night update.

A mass water delivery system is in place to protect the section of the transmission line within the fire perimeter and has been effective in assisting with protection of the line, the wildfire service say. The power line remains operational.

Four firefighters and three support staff remained on site again tonight to monitor the fire and protect high-value features.

Forty-two firefighters, three helicopters and 14 pieces of heavy equipment were working on the blaze Thursday. They are supported by 24 additional staff, including a BCWS Incident Management Team and 16 firefighters from four different local fire departments.

An evacuation order remains in place for 43 properties, along with evacuation alerts for Eneas Lakes, Pennask Lake, Trepanier, and Pennask Creek provincial parks, three properties in Electoral Area M, and three recreational camping areas south of Highway 97C and northwest of Peachland.

Photo: Contributed

RCMP say they have one man in custody following an assault near the Cove Resort in West Kelowna Thursday evening.

According to reports, witnesses reported seeing a man assault two other men with a weapon.

While police wouldn’t divulge the weapon involved, people at the nearby Gellatly Nut Farm say they began coughing violently around that time.

They told Castanet they were informed it was pepper spray.

In an email, police say a 61-year-old man was arrested and the weapon seized.

The victims were treated for minor injuries at the scene by Emergency Health Services.

The suspect was later released from custody and will appear in court at a later date.

RCMP are continuing to investigate.

Anyone witnessing this event are asked to contact the West Kelowna RCMP at 250-768-2880.

Photo: Contributed

West Kelowna Fire Chief Jason Brolund says he would prefer to get a hundred calls for smoke that turns out to be nothing than nobody call for what turns out to be something.

Emergency lines handled numerous calls Thursday night for what was believed to be a new wildfire burning “somewhere above Glenrosa.”

Several tips and emails into Castanet proclaimed the same thing after dark, billowing smoke, was seen rising above the hills.

Brolund says investigation of the smoke was turned over to the BC Wildfire Service because it was felt it was a ways out of town and outside the West Kelowna Fire Department’s jurisdiction.

While the smoke turned out to be from the still out-of-control Brenda Creek wildfire 40 kilometres from town, Brolund says the public did the right thing, and encouraged them to remain vigilant.

“We are grateful for the public notifying us of smoke that shouldn’t be there,” said Brolund.

“If it means we have to do these chases, and find out it’s outside our area, or strange looking smoke from a different fire, that’s fine. We would really hate to discover this morning that we had a growing fire last night, and we weren’t able to do anything because nobody told us.”

Brolund says he saw the same smoke and had the same concerns.

He also believed it was likely coming from the Brenda Creek fire, but admitted there were times he wasn’t sure because it was “kind of coming from a different direction, and it seemed pretty dark.”

One piece of advice Brolund wanted to pass along to the public is to try and associate a fire with landmarks, or try and be more specific as to where a fire is.

“Above Glenrosa is a pretty wide area,” he says.

“We have great people who work on the end of the line when people call 911 or *5555 to report a wildfire. They are able to ask very specific questions and get to the heart of the matter.”

Not for a second, Brolund adds, do we want people thinking they shouldn’t bug us, or someone else has reported it.

“We always say, if you see smoke where it shouldn’t be, phone us.”

There’s “no call too small.”

Photo: Contributed

UPDATE 8:56 p.m.

The smoke spotted near Glenrosa in West Kelowna was not from a new fire in the area, BCWS reports.

A spokesperson from wildfire service says the smoke the residents are seeing could be from already active fires in the area, such as Brenda Creek.

Wildfire officers call this a ‘smoke chase’ as they went out to the scene to investigate and there was no fire in that specific area.

BCWS says they appreciate people utilizing the BC Wildfire line to report any signs of a wildfire.

ORIGINAL 6:35 p.m.

BC Wildfire Service has received multiple reports about a fire near the Glenrosa area in West Kelowna.

A spokesperson for BCWS says crews are heading out to the scene to investigate the fire and may have to send out an initial attack crew to assess the situation.

There is no information on the size or cause of the fire.

The blaze appears to have started Thursday evening sometime around 5 p.m.

More information will be provided as it becomes available.

Madison Erhardt

UPDATE: 3 p.m.

West Kelowna RCMP say they are investigating after a swastika was spray-painted in a local parking lot.

On July 21, 2021 just after 5:30 p.m., Kelowna RCMP responded to a complaint of a swastika symbol which had been spray painted in a parking lot of a mall in 500-block of Highway 97 in West Kelowna.

“The swastika was put directly behind the vehicle of a Jewish man, who was understandably very upset when he saw it,” says Sgt. Joel Glen of the West Kelowna RCMP.

“Racism of any kind has no place in our community and will not tolerated. We are conducting a fulsome investigation into this incident, and appeal to anyone who witnessed it to come forward.”

The exact time of this incident is not currently known, but is believed to have happened during the morning of July 21.

The investigation is ongoing, and West Kelowna RCMP are asking anyone who has dashcam footage, or was in the area and saw suspicious activity that day to contact the West Kelowna RCMP at (250) 768-2800.

ORIGINAL:11:25 p.m.

A Kelowna resident says he was the target of a hate crime in West Kelowna on Wednesday.

Michael, who wishes to remain anonymous says he went into work at Proactive Physiotherapy in West Kelowna Wednesday morning. When he came back out to his car at the end of the day he found a spray-painted swastika directly beside his car.

“Someone has to have seen me at work wearing my Yarmulka because I usually don’t wear it in public just in terms of comfort and I like wearing different sort of hats. I don’t feel so safe,” he said.

“Between 9:30 a.m. when I pulled in yesterday and 11 a.m. when my colleague arrived after the fact she told me that at 11 a.m. It was already there. It was behind my car, it was not there when I pulled in, yet at the end of the day it was there.”

Michael, an Osteopathic Practitioner, believes it could be one of his clients.

“Mind you then why would they want to continue being treated by me. However, in proximity to the business, someone needs to have known it was me in terms of being openly Jewish.”

Michael was born in Montreal, his parents were both holocaust survivors.

He says this isn’t the first time he has been a target. He says he took martial arts lessons in high school after he was attacked a number of times as a child for being Jewish.

“Having to flout a symbol of hate like that especially directed at one other person. Sometimes it is easier just staring hate straight in the eye. Having it directed right in the face, but this is obviously a cowardly act.”

Michael says RCMP Have been made aware of the hate crime.

“They told me there is not much that can be done and that the only cameras here are the ones facing the bank.”

Castanet has requested more information from RCMP.

“I hope the perpetrators are found and that in terms of law and order that this is investigated and taken care of and not just blown off and not just nonchalantly ignored.”

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