'Everyone remembers it': B.C. Okanagan fires trigger reminder of 2003 disaster
Fires have grown as big as 1,500 hectares, says CBC's Brady Strachan
As a spell of fires continue to burn in B.C.'s Okanagan Valley, residents and business owners worry it could approach the severity of the catastrophic fires of 2003 that burned down more than 200 homes.
"When you have been through it you also know the potential damage that it can do," said winery owner Gordon Fitzpatrick of the 2003 firestorm that resulted in damage to his property.
"Everyone remembers it. Whenever you talk to an evacuee they may not have experienced the fire but they remember that time," CBC B.C.'s Brady Strachan told The Current's guest host Megan Williams.
The initial 22 fires in the Okanagan region this week have been whittled down to seven, said Strachan, but some of the remaining fires have grown as big as 1,500 hectares.
- As Okanagan fires stabilize, officials warn of coming heat in B.C.
- All eyes on weather as Okanagan wildfires continue to burn
"[The fires] started up last Tuesday when we had a very hot day followed by a dry lightning — basically a thunderstorm that rolled through the Okanagan Valley, followed Okanagan Lake from the south to the north, and littering the hillsides of the lake with lightning — but not much rain," he explained.
He added evacuees are anxious to get back into their homes, after almost a week away.
The fires are threatening hundreds of homes in the Peachland region, just outside of West Kelowna, said Strachan.
Fire officials predict stabilizing winds will play a key factor in getting the fires under control.
Air quality advisories are in effect for people with respiratory problems, children and seniors.
Strachan noted the smell of smoke is constant.
"It smells like you're at a campfire all the time and that's just sort of become the smell of summer for many communities in the southern interior of British Columbia," he told Williams.
"Every year we're getting fires near communities. You can almost count on it."
Listen to the full discussion near the top of this page.
This segment was produced by The Current's Allie Jaynes, Kristian Jebsen and Anne Penman.