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West Kelowna  

RCMP bomb squad from Vancouver dispatched to West Kelowna

Bomb squad to Cameron Rd.

Police have cordoned off a home on West Kelowna’s Cameron Road Sunday after a possible explosive device was found in the basement.

The RCMP bomb squad is on their way to the Okanagan from Vancouver to dispose of the device.

Police have released few details about the incident, but it is unrelated to Saturday night’s shooting on Kelowna’s Pandosy Street.

Castanet will update this story as more information becomes available.



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Peachland man captures video of snake with fish in its mouth on Okanagan Lake

Surfing snake, catches fish

A Peachland man counts himself lucky after capturing a wildlife moment on the shores of Okanagan Lake.

Cary Derksen tells Castanet he was at a beach near Seclusion Bay in Peachland last week when he spotted a surfing snake.

"He was really riding on top of the wave."

Derksen says the first thing he noticed was that there was something in the snake's mouth that was still wiggling around: "there was a snake with a fish in its mouth. He seemed very intent on eating it."

Castanet reached out to wildlife biologist, Michael Dunn of Big Picture Biology to learn more about the type of snake and its predatory habits.

"It is a western terrestrial garter snake. They are often found near water and love eating fish and amphibians," Dunn says.

The common garter snake is an important British Columbian reptile, and is the most widespread snake species in North America. British Columbia is home to three different subspecies: the Puget Sound garter snake, the valley garter snake, and the red-sided garter snake.

Dunn says snakes and all reptiles are ectothermic, which means they thermoregulate using their environment rather than endothermic animals such as mammals.

"Endotherms maintain a static temperature through sweating to cool or burning calories to warm themselves," Dunn said. "Ectotherms, on the other hand, can survive a great deal of variation in temperature (much colder and much hotter than we could survive) but they rely on the environment to cool them down or heat them up."

Dunn says that aside from catching its dinner, the snake may also have been hanging out in the water to try and cool down.

"This garter snake may be cooling itself down by being in the water but it also might be in there specifically to hunt and may have spent the morning basking in order to compensate for the heat that it would lose in the water."

As far as Derksen is concerned, "it was just nice to catch one of those rare nature moments."



Winds, rising temperatures expected at Brenda Creek fire Saturday

Winds expected at fire

While winds in the forecast could increase fire behaviour at the Brenda Creek wildfire later in the afternoon Saturday, firefighters continue to mop up areas and extinguish hot spots.

The wildfire burning south of the Okanagan Connector was first discovered on July 14, and it's since grown to an estimated 824 hectares.

Cabins in the Headwater Creek area continue to be protected by sprinkler systems, while crews are still extinguishing hot spots along the power line that supplies electricity to more than 60,000 people in West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation and Peachland.

“Smoky conditions will continue today into the afternoon when some smoke may lift, causing changes in winds and increasing fire behaviour in some areas,” the BCWS said in its Saturday morning update.

“As temperatures peak in the afternoon fire suppression efforts may be challenged.”

Crews are working to mop up an area to the northeast of the fire where the fire recently broke through a guard line, while others are patrolling the guard to the south of the fire, extinguishing hot spots using a skidder. Overall, the BCWS says the established control lines on the fire have been working well in recent days.

There remains 33 firefighters, three helicopters, 13 pieces of heavy equipment and two danger tree assessors and fallers working on the fire.

The fire has remained pegged at 824 hectares since last Sunday.





Hurt hiker helped from Bear Creek Provincial Park

Hurt hiker helped from trail

Firefighters were called to assist paramedics Friday afternoon to help with a rescue in Bear Creek Provincial Park.

A call came in at roughly 12:30 p.m. for a hiker with a dislocated knee on the trail.

Firefighters attended to help paramedics retrieve the patient from the trail.

The injured hiker was removed from the trail and loaded into an ambulance by 1:40 p.m.



Crews target hot spots at Brenda Creek fire with infrared scan

Infrared scan done on fire

The BC Wildfire Service says it has completed a full infrared scan of a large wildfire burning in the Brenda Mines area off Highway 97C.

The Brenda Creek wildfire is still estimated to be 874 hectares, a size it has held for the past few days.

The new infrared scan has helped identify hot spots for crews to target.

Structural protection crews remain deployed on high value resources like the cabins under evacuation order around Headwaters Lakes.

Crews are mopping up on the east flank after a controlled burn earlier this week secured guard lines.

Northeast of the fire perimeter, crews are working on 100 per cent mop up on a small excursion outside of the guard. They are patrolling along the guard south of the fire perimeter and utilizing a skidder to extinguish hot spots.

Firefighters are still looking for opportunities to complete additional small ignition operations along established guards.

“There is a slight risk of subtropical moisture in the area today which may cause thunderstorms with dry lightning. Light south to southwest winds will prevail. Saturday will see similar winds,” BCWS said Friday.

There are now 34 provincial firefighters, 19 structural firefighters from six different fire departments, three helicopter and 20 pieces of heavy equipment.



Residents urged to conserve water in West Kelowna

Call to conserve water

With West Kelowna’s reservoir levels continuing to decline due to substantial irrigation use during the ongoing drought conditions and extreme heat, the municipality is reminding residents that stage two water restrictions are in place.

That means watering is allowed just twice a week.

“Daily use has declined slightly since Stage 2 restrictions began July 20, but consumption is still too high and we ask all customers – residential, commercial and agricultural – to reduce outdoor use, by 30 per cent,” said Allen Fillion, director of engineering and public works.

“Conserving now will make a big difference later because with little to no rain and extreme heat, we may soon reach a point where even the snowpack will be insufficient to replenish upland storage reservoirs for next year.”
Stage 2 restrictions are:
  • Even numbered addresses water Saturdays and Tuesdays
  • Odd numbered addresses water Sundays and Wednesdays
  • Properties equipped with automated sprinkler systems water between midnight and 6 a.m. on permitted days
  • Properties equipped with manually controlled sprinkling systems, including those attached to outside taps, water between midnight and 11 a.m. or 6 p.m. to midnight on permitted days
  • Never water between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.
  • General rules allow additional hand watering of landscape plants and vegetable gardens, excluding lawns, only as needed
For more information, click here.


Control lines going up around Brenda Creek wildfire off Hwy 97C

Progress on Brenda fire

Crews appear to be making progress boxing in a large wildfire burning off the Okanagan Connector near Brenda Mines.

The Brenda Creek wildfire is still estimated to be 824 hectares in size, a figure that has held since Sunday.

After a successful planned ignition on the eastern flank of the fire Tuesday helped secure control lines, crews are now focusing on the southern edge of the blaze where a 25-foot wet line is being installed.

“Crews will continue to patrol and monitor spots along the power line to the north of the fire and will be patrolling the west flank,” BCWS said Wednesday evening.

That power line is only link between BC Hydro's grid and the Greater Westside.

“Night operations will continue with direct attack with heavy equipment and completing small hand ignitions to clean up the guards if conditions on site are favourable.”

Structural protection teams and equipment remain deployed and are staying on scene overnight to monitor high-value assets. That structural protection team includes 16 firefighters from six different fire departments.

There are also 51 provincial firefighters, four danger tree fallers, three helicopters and 19 pieces of heavy equipment assigned to the fire.



Nearly $1M in governments funds earmarked for the Shannon Lake active transportation corridor

Ottawa funds road safety

The City of West Kelowna has the funding it needs to begin work on the Shannon Lake active transportation corridor.

The city announced Wednesday it has secured a COVID-19 infrastructure grant of $937,000, money earmarked to help support construction of a continuous pathway as part of the transportation corridor.

The federal government is kicking in $778,000 while the province is providing $194,000 of the $2.8 million project.

The city will provide the rest.

Phase 1 of the project is expected to begin later this summer with construction of a new roundabout and sidewalks at Shannon Lake, Bartley and Stevens roads.

In the spring of next year, Phase 2 will include extension of sidewalks on Stevens Road between Dominion and Westlake roads.

“On behalf of council, I am extremely grateful to the federal and provincial governments for this funding to help deliver active transportation infrastructure for a more connected community,” said Mayor Gord Milsom.

“As we were reminded during the COVID-19 pandemic, members of our community value active and healthy living – this funding will greatly serve the means to do just that with addition of sidewalks, bicycle lanes and safer connections for all.”



Brenda Creek wildfire's advance east 'significantly reduced'

Ignition reinforces guard line

Crews are making progress containing a large wildfire burning near Brenda Mines.

The BC Wildfire Service says firefighters were able to reinforce a guard line on the east flank of the fire with a planned hand ignition Tuesday.

“This significantly reduced the risk of further growth to the east.” BCWS said, adding the Brenda Creek fire did not grow on Tuesday. It was last mapped at 824 hectares.

Crews continue to mop up under sections on the critical transmission line linking West Kelowna to BC Hydro’s grid while focusing containment efforts on the north and east flanks.

An infrared scan on those flanks was a possibility on Tuesday night in an effort to help crews to locate and extinguish hotspots on Wednesday. Five firefighters stayed on site overnight again to monitor the scene and protect high-value assets.

But with a heat warning now in place for the region and temperatures expected to hit 34 C in Kelowna on Wednesday, firefighters are preparing for flare ups.

“No precipitation is anticipated in the near future. These conditions will continue to challenge fire suppression efforts,” BCWS said.

Fifty-six firefighters, four helicopters and 20 pieces of heavy equipment are now assigned to the fire.

This story will be updated today as more information is known.



Rare badger found dead along Highway 97 in West Kelowna

Sad end for rare badger

Cindy White

Not long after someone sent a video to Castanet showing a rare badger rambling along the side of Highway 97 in West Kelowna, one of the animals has been found dead along the road.

Badgers are an endangered species in BC. Conservation efforts have been underway for years in the region to try to bolster the population. It’s estimated there are only between 300 and 400 of them left in this province.

“They are actually our rarest carnivore in the province, not a whole lot of them around. In the Okanagan they’re quite rare,” said Richard Weir, Carnivore Conservation Specialist, Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.

There’s a lot of people and a lot of highways in the Okanagan and they don’t fare too well when you get those two things combined. We think in the Okanagan, there’s probably less than 50 in total,” added Weir.

Badgers tend to have a very large hunting territory, and that’s why they end up having to cross roads and highways frequently.

Weir notes when Badgers come to a road, they don’t stop and look both ways. “Badgers are a member of the weasel family and they have really big egos and so they don’t think anything is going to hurt them. So, they just kinda go across. That doesn’t work out well when there’s a Mack truck barreling down on you.”

Nathan Early posted the picture of the dead creature to a naturalists website and told Castanet it was a sad way to encounter his first badger.



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