Smoke from the current forest fire on Hwy 33 is visible from West Kelowna.

Smoke from the current forest fire on Hwy 33 is visible from West Kelowna.

UPDATE: Rank 2 fire off Hwy 33, east of Kelowna—Evacuation Order expanded

Resident veterinarian of Joe Rich steps up to offer help to anyone needing to evacuate their farm animals.

Kelowna, B.C.- With current weather conditions, all existing Evacuation Orders and Alerts due to the estimated 80-hectare Joe Rich Grassfire will remain in effect overnight.

There are approximately 142 properties that are on Evacuation Order and residents will remain out of their homes tonight. Residents living on another 158 properties remain on Evacuation Alert and must be prepared to leave their homes on short notice, should conditions change and the Evacuation Order is expanded due to fire behaviour.

A detailed map with the latest Evacuation Order and Alert areas showing affected roads and addresses can be viewed online at

During the overnight hours, members of the Joe Rich Fire/Rescue department along with approximately 30 BC Wildfire Service ground crew will conduct fire patrols. They’ll be watching for any hot spots or flare-ups and provide protection as needed.

RCMP continues to staff roadblocks along Highway 33 and conduct security patrols overnight through the Evacuation Area. Highway 33 remains closed at Gallaghers Road and at the intersection at Rock Creek

More than 30 Emergency Support Services volunteers have been registering evacuees at a Reception Centre set up at Willow Park Church (439 Highway 33 east) in Kelowna. Approximately 40 families affected by the Evacuation Order have registered. The Centre will close at 11:00 pm tonight and reopen at 8:30 am tomorrow (Saturday) morning for any registration needs. No donations of accommodation or food or clothing are required.

The Canadian Disaster Animal Response Team (CDART) has provided assistance for evacuated residents with four horses, seven goats, one pig and dozens of chickens and turkeys.

No further update is anticipated until approximately 8:00 am Saturday morning, July 4th.


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An Evacuation Order has been extended to include all properties on Goudie Road, Jack Pine Road, Prather Road, Trapper Road and Boone Road in response to the Joe Rich Grass Fire.

An Evacuation Order is also in effect for all properties between the intersection of Goudie and Highway and 7650 Highway 33 east.

An Evacuation Alert is now in place for residents living on the south side of Highway 33 east from Goudie Road to 8991 Highway 33 east.  These people should be prepared to leave their homes on short notice.

Meanwhile, a veterinarian who lives in the eastern end of Joe Rich has volunteered to assist evacuated property owners concerned about their farm animals or pets.

Gayle Jewell says anyone needing help with hauling out their animals can contact her for assistance at 250-862-7852 (cell) or 250-807-2775 (home).

“I’ve been through this before back in the 2003 fire so we’re available to help haul out the critters and provide a safe place for them until the fire is under control,” said Jewell, noting she has a 20-acre property to accommodate the animals.

“I have two people I’m helping out at the moment, one is on an evacuation alert at this point and another who has goats, turkeys, chickens and a horse and she needs to get her animals to a safe place.”

Jewell said for animals upset or stressed by the smoke from the fire, the best calming influence would be to hose them down.

“Water misters are great if you have them, but it’s important to keep the animals cool, whether they are poultry or horses. They are already stressed out by the smoke, and the heat stress on top of that is very hard on them.


An Evacuation Order has been extended in response to the Joe Rich grass fire adjacent to  Hwy 33 which is now at 80 hectares in size.

Residents along Prather Road are now under evacuation.

The fire command post re-situated to a traffic pull-out just east of the hairpin north of Eight Mile (Heartland) Ranch at 5:15 p.m. Friday. Numerous action posts extend eastward along Hwy. 33 from Goudie for the extent of the fire area.

New information will be released to the public through the media and as soon as it becomes available.


Deborah Cameron is breathing a little easier now as she looks over the billowing smoke and water bombers trying to bring the Hwy 33 fire under control.

Cameron owns the Heartland Ranch, which is currently full of campers at their RV campground along with the Adventure Park facility. The park has been shut down while campers have the option of staying or leaving at this point as the evacuation order impacts the rural residential areas further east. She said most of her campers have opted to stay for now.

“They are hitting it hard right now and the Joe Rich Fire Department responded very quickly to the initial grassfire,” said Cameron. “But initially, we were very concerned the fire was coming in our direction.”

Cameron said she had one evacuation area resident parked at her front gate, trying to get information on her cell phone about the status of the fire and how it might be impacting her home.

“We all get nervous when fire season comes now, especially those of us who were around for the fire in 2003,” Cameron continued. “We have 107 acres of grassland and trees so a fire on our property would spread quickly.”

“I think we all have a little stress disorder from what happened in 2003 every time summer rolls around. Hopefully they will be able to hit this one hard and minimize the number of people losing their homes.”

Meanwhile, an evacuation order is now underway for residences along Huckleberry Road between the intersections of Goudie Road and Sun Valley Road as well as residences along Jack Pine Road in the Joe Rich area.

Residents on Goudie Road and Sun Valley Road are on Evacuation Alert and should be prepared to leave their homes on a moments notice with important items and personal materials.

Trained and experienced fire fighters are responding from the Joe Rich, Kelowna, Lake Country and Ellison fire departments and are being assisted with a crew from the BC Wildfire Management Branch.

People are requested to stay away from the immediate area and RCMP is doing traffic control.

The Emergency Operation Centre has been activated to support crews in the field  responding to this incident.

New information will be released to the public through the media and as soon as it becomes available.


Big White fire department sending three fire truck units and crew at 4:30 p.m. to assist concerted effort by all area fire departments to protect buildings in the area of the Huckleberry Road wild fire off Hwy 33 in Joe Rich.


Hwy 33 is closed at Goudie Road on the west side of the wild fire. Unconfirmed where Hwy 33 is closed to traffic on the east side of the fire, in Joe Rich area.

Two helicopters are reported repeatedly dumping water on the fire east if Hwy 33, between Huckleberry, Sun Valley and Goudie roads.


Christine Haynes said she first encountered the Hwy 33 grass fire at the Blueberry Mountain area and saw it moving up into the trees.

Haynes, a resident of Penny’s RV Park, headed back to her home to quickly collect what belongings she could.

Another woman told a Capital News reporter at the Hwy 33 roadblock that her father lived in the area, and he was able to escape safely but she believes his house was lost to the fire.

Dr. Marty Steinruck, who lives on Huckleberry Road, said he was concerned about losing his home and the animals living on his property. He has been evacuated twice before due to forest fires and is worried the fire will head in the direction of his house if it jumps the highway aided by a north wind.


At 3:48 p.m. two or three lines of water had already been dropped on the fire by BC Wildfire Service airplanes.

The wind had shifted to the east. Fire fighters staging along Goudie Road as well as Huckleberry and Sun Valley roads.


Crews working on the rapidly expanding Joe Rich grass fire are currently  focusing their efforts on structure protection, and are asking the community to stay away from the area.

“Traffic along Highway 33 East in 5900 block is being greatly affected as crews are on scene fighting to extinguish the fire,” said Const. Jesse O’Donaghey

“Motorists are asked to find an alternate route until further notice. The cause of the fire is not yet known.”

Evacuations are also underway, and Sun Valley Road is being evacuated.

Huckleberry Road is being evacuated, 3:30 p.m. Unconfirmed reports had smoke visible about 100 meters from one home, but no visible flames.


Local firefighters were attempting to access the fire on the high side, along Huckleberry Road in Joe Rich.

More RCMP were requested just after 3 p.m. to assist with traffic and possible evacuation notices.


The Emergency Operations Centre had not yet been activated in response to a Rank 5 forest fire that started along Hwy 33 by 3:15 p.m.

Bruce Smith, communications manager with the Regional District of the Central Okanagan, said he was not aware of the fire at that point because it would initially be handled by first responders until further assistance is required.

“It’s a bit early yet from the sounds of it until there is a request from the people on the ground for additional support, such as for evacuating people from their homes, that sort of thing,” Smith said. “Until we are contacted it is still a first responders issue.”


Diameter of the fire reported to be 2-3 ha in size at 3:05 p.m Friday.

Unconfirmed reports say evacuations for area residents are being considered.

Huckleberry side of the fire reported to be demonstrating Rank 5 behaviours. Evacuation notices are imminent for residents in

Rank 5 is defined as “extremely vigorous surface fire, or active crown fire.” according to the BC Wildfire Service website. The spread rate is six to 18 meters per minute.’ These fires are extremely difficult to control.


A Rank 2 grass fire about one mile east of Eight Mile Ranch was reported at 2:50 p.m. Friday.

All available firefighting power was called on to assist with fighting the fire.

Air firefighting support from BC Forestry was immediately requested.

Traffic control for Hwy 33 east of Eight Mile Ranch was called to the area within minutes of firefighters arriving on the scene.

The fire started at the side of Hwy 33 and spread.