Okanagan Mountain Fire

Ten Year Anniversary

separator004

This year marks the 10th Anniversary of the Okanagan Mountain Fire. On August 16th, 2003, a lightning strike across the lake from Peachland near Rattlesnake Island unleashed the Okanagan Mountain Fire. This gallery contains images over the course of the fire, including many, which have never been published before.

>>> Selected images are available for purchase in our online gallery.
Also available in eBook format…with even more images!  Get it from the iBookstore.

iBookstore

The Okanagan Mountain Fire August 16th, 2003 to September 20th, 2003

The Okanagan Mountain Fire
August 16th, 2003 to September 20th, 2003

Saturday, August 16th, 2003

August 16th, 2003 - 18:42 PST The fire has already progressed away from Squally Point near Rattlesnake Island.

August 16th, 2003 – 19:42 PST
The fire has already progressed away from Squally Point near Rattlesnake Island.

August 16th, 2003 - 19:47 PST The light from the fire is so bright, it reflects off the surface of Okanagan Lake.

August 16th, 2003 – 20:47 PST
The light from the fire is so bright, it reflects off the surface of Okanagan Lake.

 Monday, August 18th, 2003

August 18th, 2003 - 16:56 PST

August 18th, 2003 – 17:56 PST

The above panoramic picture was stitched from 5 smaller individual pictures. To explore it in high resolution, zoom in and out, and pan, >>> click here to open in new window.

August 18th, 2003 - 17:17 PST The smoke column rises 30,000 feet into the air.

August 18th, 2003 – 18:17 PST
The smoke column rises 30,000 feet into the air.

August 18th, 2003 - 17:24 PST The first air tankers arrive along with their birddogs to battle the fire.

August 18th, 2003 – 18:24 PST
The first air tankers arrive along with their birddogs to battle the fire.

August 18th, 2003 - 17:26 PST After a successful drop, a Conair DC-6 retardant bomber heads back to Penticton to reload.

August 18th, 2003 – 18:26 PST
After a successful drop, a Conair DC-6 retardant bomber heads back to Penticton to reload.

August 18th, 2003 - 17:33 PST Winds are still light but the fire started to gain momentum.

August 18th, 2003 – 18:33 PST
Winds are still light but the fire started to gain momentum.

August 18th, 2003 - 17:54 PST The fire slowly moves toward the first homes. Here, a DC-6 drops another line of retardant.

August 18th, 2003 – 18:54 PST
The fire slowly moves toward the first homes. Here, a Convair drops another line of retardant.

August 18th, 2003 - 18:02 PST A CL-415 is dwarfed against the size of the fire as it drops its 13,500 lbs water load.

August 18th, 2003 – 19:02 PST
A CL-415 is dwarfed against the size of the fire as it drops its 13,500 lbs water load.

August 18th, 2003 - 18:46 PST Many boaters were drawn out on Okanagan Lake to take a closer look.

August 18th, 2003 – 19:46 PST
Many boaters were drawn out on Okanagan Lake to take a closer look.

Thursday, August 21st, 2003

It was impossible to take pictures every day because the smoke was just too heavy too see across the lake. During the previous two days winds increased steadily, pushing the fire at a high rate several kilometres toward Kelowna. The Okanagan Mountain Fire spread at up to 100 meters per minute. Wildfires can jump a distance of up to two kilometres in high wind conditions.

August 21st, 2003 - 19:12 PST A shot from the patio on the westside of the lake, gives a good impression of the size of the fire. The lake is almost 5 kilometres wide at this location!

August 21st, 2003 – 20:12 PST
A shot from the patio on the westside of the lake, gives a good impression of the size of the fire. The lake is almost 5 kilometres wide at this location!

August 21st, 2003 - 19:51 PST The fire is getting closer and closer to Kettle Valley and the Mission. Green Bay is in the foreground.

August 21st, 2003 – 20:51 PST
The fire is getting closer and closer to Kettle Valley and the Mission. Green Bay is in the foreground.

August 21st, 2003 - 20:12 PST At this time everybody was wondering if the fire could be possibly stopped before reaching all the homes.

August 21st, 2003 – 21:12 PST
At this time everybody was wondering if the fire could be possibly stopped before reaching all the homes.

August 21st, 2003 - 20:24 PST A panoramic shot of the Mission area.

August 21st, 2003 – 21:24 PST
A panoramic shot of the Mission area.

To explore the above panoramic in high resolution, zoom in and out, and pan, >>> click here to open in new window.

Friday, August 22nd, 2003 – The Firestorm

August 22nd, 2003 - 18:02 PST A shocking view was revealed after the smoke lifted late in the day. Hundreds of homes were burning.

August 22nd, 2003 – 19:02 PST
A shocking view was revealed after the smoke lifted late in the day. Hundreds of homes were burning.

Thick and heavy smoke reduced the visibility to a few hundred feet most of the day. It wasn’t until about 18:40 when the smoke lifted, leaving many of us in shock. We just couldn’t believe nor comprehend what we saw across the lake. The fire had reached the homes and was reducing many of them to a pile of ashes within minutes.

During the Firestorm, almost one third of Kelowna’s 100,000 population had to be evacuated. Despite a great effort by firefighters, the Okanagan Mountain Fire destroyed 238 homes.

August 22nd, 2003 - 17:48 PST The Firestorm is hitting with full force.

August 22nd, 2003 – 18:48 PST
The Firestorm is hitting with full force.

August 22nd, 2003 - 17:52 PST Kelowna Firestorm!

August 22nd, 2003 – 18:52 PST
Kelowna Firestorm!

To explore the above panoramic in high resolution, zoom in and out, and pan, >>> click here to open in new window.

August 22nd, 2003 - 19:43 PST No words needed.

August 22nd, 2003 – 20:43 PST
No words needed.

To explore the above panoramic in high resolution, zoom in and out, and pan, >>> click here to open in new window.

August 22nd, 2003 - 19:56 PST The fire caused so much heat and updraft that it created its own weather system resulting in some spectacular lightning over Kelowna.

August 22nd, 2003 – 20:56 PST
The fire caused so much heat and updraft that it created its own weather system resulting in some spectacular lightning over Kelowna.

Monday, September 1st, 2003

20 Helicopters, 7 water bombers, and 200 pieces of heavy equipment battled the fire.
The Martin Mars water bomber can drop 7,200 US gallons (27,276 litres) of water, covering an area of up to 4 acres (1.6 hectares).

September 1st, 2003 - 17:58 PST The Martin Mars waterbomber was scooping in the middle of Okanagan Lake with the Summerhill Winery Pyramid in the background.

September 1st, 2003 – 17:58 PST
The Martin Mars waterbomber was scooping in the middle of Okanagan Lake with the Summerhill Winery Pyramid in the background.

September 1st, 2003 - 18:14 PST Two CL-415s and a Martin Mars waterbomber were picking up water simultaneously. Some boaters came too close to the aircraft working on the water.

September 1st, 2003 – 18:14 PST
Two CL-415s and a Martin Mars waterbomber were picking up water simultaneously. Some boaters came too close to the aircraft working on the water.

Saturday, September 20th, 2003

The Okanagan Mountain fire was 100% contained on Saturday, September 20th, 2003. It consumed an area of 64,780 acres (25912 hectares).

No human life was lost!

Aftermath

October 12th, 2003

October 12th, 2003

October 12th, 2003

October 12th, 2003

October 12th, 2003

October 12th, 2003

>>> Selected images are available for purchase in our online gallery.
Also available in eBook format…with even more images!  Get it from the iBookstore.

iBookstore

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please answer the following question: * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.