At the time the 2003 wildfire struck, Distinctly Kelowna Tours’ owner Debbie Dupasquier was a paid on call firefighter with West Kelowna Fire Rescue. Although she did not go to Kelowna to battle the wildfire, she remained with several other firefighters to protect West Kelowna.
At 2:00 am, August 16, 2013 lightning struck at Squally Point in the Southern part of Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park. Swirling winds pushed the fire North and South, destroying the Okanagan’s largest park. By August 21, embers were raining down on city streets. 10,000 residents living near Kelowna’s Southeastern edge were evacuated. On August 22 winds gusting 70 km per hour whopped the fire forcing the evacuation of another 17,000 people. The rank 6 fire – the most dangerous – charged across the city’s South Slopes. In one night 223 homes were razed, some million dollar houses and property. The fire would change directions and destroy a home, while leaving the neighbor’s home intact.
Forestry firefighters and structural firefighters were joined by a 1000 troops on August 25; the 20,000 hectare fire was only 40% contained. The destruction was estimated at $160 million in lost property and contents. As evacuees were allowed to return home the flames closed in on the Myra Canyon trestles. On September 3, 3200 people in Southeast Kelowna were ordered out of their homes for a second time. Rain allowed all evacuees to return home on September 8, 2013. By September 12, 12 of the 18 trestles had been destroyed. St Hubertus Winery was destroyed. No lives were lost!
Okanagan Mountain Park Fire Facts:
- 25,600 hectares
- 238 homes lost or damaged
- 12 wooden trestles in Myra Canyon lost, decks on 2 steel trestles burned
- 27,050 people evacuated, (plus 4,050 re-evacuated)
- Maximum resources used at any one point: 700 personnel, 250 pieces of heavy equipment and 20 helicopters
- Communities affected: Kelowna and Naramata
While enjoying our Eastside Bench Wine Tour you will see remnants of the 2003 wildfire. During our Westside Bench Wine Tour you can gaze across the lake and see the destruction to our forests from the fire.
Distinctly Kelowna Tours is one of Kelowna’s largest wine tour companies, offering winery tours, sightseeing tours, agri-tours, culinary tours and adventure tours throughout the Okanagan Valley to individuals and corporate groups.