UPDATE: 6:20 a.m.
The Okanagan Connector remained closed throughout much of the night, reopening just after 3:30 a.m. according to DriveBC.
The highway that connects West Kelowna with Merritt was closed at about 10:30 a.m. Friday after a truck carrying hazardous materials caught fire about 10 kilometres west of Peachland.
The fire proved hard to extinguish, according to police, but it's not clear why the incident resulted in the 17-hour closure.
UPDATE: 9:02 p.m.
Highway 97C still remains closed in both directions after a truck fire ignited across the roadway Friday.
DriveBC said the Okanagan Connector is closed due to the vehicle incident. The road closed down following a Penske rental truck catching fire about 11 kilometres west of Peachland, some time around 10:30 a.m.
Earlier this evening, many people were reported stranded at the Brenda Mines rest stop, waiting for the highway to reopen.
DriveBC said that it will provide its next update at 11 p.m.
UPDATE: 5:10 p.m.
The Okanagan Connector remains closed early Friday evening and according to DriveBC, it may be for a while.
The highway closed in both directions following a truck fire earlier in the day.
Many people are stranded at the Brenda Mines rest stop, waiting for the highway to reopen.
According to a DriveBC update, the highway remains closed in both directions as of 5 p.m. The Penske rental truck caught fire about 11 kilometres west of Peachland, some time around 10:30 a.m.
It's not clear when the highway might reopen, with DriveBC stating that it will provide its next update now at 9 p.m.
UPDATE: 4:45 p.m.
The Okanagan Connector has been closed for much of Friday, leaving many people stranded at the Brenda Mines rest stop.
William Hannam is an Ebus passenger who's travelling from Surrey to Kelowna, but he's been stranded on the Connector since 11 a.m. after a truck carrying hazardous material caught fire.
Hannam was meeting up with a ride in Kelowna, who was planning on taking him to Prince George to visit his dying father in hospice. But now he's not sure what will happen.
“This is a nightmare,” Hannam tells Castanet from the Brenda Mines rest stop. “We have been stranded here since 11 a.m. with no food or water or access to anything. The bus service refuses to go back to the last town.”
Hannam says he's been pleading with the driver to return back to Merritt, but the driver says Ebus won't let them.
“This situation and the choices Ebus made are careless ... Zero attempts to get us to food or drink were made, the bus driver just gives attitude for suggesting humans might need amenities,” Hannam said. “I just want to see my dad before he passes.”
Photos from the area show the Brenda Mines rest stop full of other vehicles waiting for the highway open.
It's not clear when the highway might reopen. DriveBC will be posting a new update about the closure at 5:30 p.m.
UPDATE: 3:50 p.m.
The Okanagan Connector remains closed Friday afternoon, following an earlier truck fire.
According to a DriveBC update, the highway remains closed in both directions as of 3:30 p.m. The Penske rental truck caught fire about 11 kilometres west of Peachland, some time around 10:30 a.m.
Police said the truck contained chemicals that had caught fire, making it difficult to extinguish.
It's not clear when the highway might reopen, but DriveBC will provide its next update at 5:30 p.m.
UPDATE: 2:30 p.m.
It appears the Okanagan Connector has been closed in both directions due to an earlier truck fire that involved hazardous chemicals.
While police said earlier that westbound traffic was able to get past the fire, several Castanet readers say they've been turned around at the Highway 97/97C turnoff.
One Castanet reader said they were told the highway would be closed for a while.
DriveBC says a further update on the closure will come at about 3:30 p.m.
UPDATE: 12:10 p.m.
The truck fire burning on the Okanagan Connector near the Silver Creek pullout is proving difficult to extinguish, according to police.
In a statement issued at noon, Kelowna RCMP spokesperson Ryan Watters says the eastbound lanes of the Connector remain closed, as West Kelowna Fire Rescue crews battle the stubborn blaze.
"The truck, which is roughly 20 kilometres outside of West Kelowna near the Silver Creek pullout, was carrying chemicals that ignited and is making the fire fight challenging," Watters says, adding that firefighters are "making progress."
The westbound lanes of traffic remain open through the area, although Watters says travel has been slowed.
An investigation into the cause of the fire will begin once it's been extinguished, although passerby Bob Hollier told Castanet it appeared to have originated near the back of the truck.
ORIGINAL: 11:25 a.m.
A truck fire has closed the eastbound lanes of traffic on the Okanagan Connector Friday morning, after burning fuel sent a wall of fire across the highway.
The large Penske rental truck caught fire some time around 10:30 a.m., about 10 kilometres east of Brenda Mines.
Photos from the scene show large flames burning the back half of the truck, while burning diesel fuel spread across the two lanes of eastbound traffic.
Passerby Bob Hollier, a retired Vancouver firefighter, stopped at the scene Friday morning to assist. He says the truck was hauling hazardous material, and the fire is sending toxic fumes into the air.
Hollier said the driver of the truck first tried to get the fire under control with a small extinguisher, but he was unsuccessful.
Emergency crews, including police and West Kelowna Fire Rescue, are now on scene.