2003 Okanagan Mountain Park Fire

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2003 Okanagan Mountain Park Fire
2003 Okanagan Mountain Park Fire.jpg
Location Okanagan Mountain Park
Date(s) August 16, 2003 (2003-08-16)
Burned area 25,912 hectares (64,030 acres)[1]
Cause lightning strike
Land use Parkland, Rural
Injuries water bomber crash
Fire damage visible in background of Rattlesnake Island

On August 16, 2003, at about 4 a.m., a wildfire was started by a lightning strike near Rattlesnake Island in Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada. The wildfire was fuelled by a constant wind and one of the driest summers in the past decade. Within a few days it had grown into a true firestorm.

The fire grew northward and eastward, initially threatening a small number of lakeshore homes, but quickly became an interface zone fire and forced the evacuation of 27,000 residents and consumed 239 homes. The final size of the firestorm was over 250 square kilometers (25,912 hectares (64,030 acres)).[1] Most of the trees in Okanagan Mountain Park were burned, and the park was closed.

60 fire departments, 1,400 armed forces troops and 1,000 forest fire fighters took part in controlling the fire, but were largely helpless in stopping the disaster.

There were also at least three private Canadair CL-215s, four Government of Alberta owned Canadair CL-215s, four private Lockheed L188 Electra airtankers and at least one Martin Mars air tanker attempting to put out the fire. One air tanker and one helicopter crashed, killing three firefighters.[2]

Amateur radio operators helped pass emergency traffic during this emergency. That cost was estimated at CAD $33.8 million.[1]

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