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Forest Fire Aftermath

British Columbia - Sept. 2003

The 2003 forest fire season on the West Coast of Canada was one of the worst in a century. Extremely dry conditions all summer turned the forest into a tinderbox. Back country travel throughout the interior of B.C. was totally banned. The communities of Kelowna and Barriere were particularly hard hit. I travelled there to see the destruction first hand. In Kelowna, 248 homes were destroyed and 30,000 people were evacuated by the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire. In Barriere, the mill was destroyed, leaving most of the town unemployed.

The cost of fighting the fires was over half a billion dollars, making it the costliest natural disaster in the history of British Columbia. In total, over 2460 forest fires burned in B.C. in 2003.

Smoke
Smoke blankets Okanagan Mountain Park south of Kelowna as what's left of the forest fire smolders.

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A sign warns of the dangers of entering the forest fire area.

Car
Ashes are all that remain of this house.

Car2
This car was completely gutted by flames.

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There was total devastation in many areas of southern Kelowna.

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These housed were burned to the ground but the houses across the street were undamaged.

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Any flammable materials in these houses were reduced to ashes.

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Complete destruction.

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All that remained of these houses were their chimneys. They towered over the ash filled basements like tombstones.

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Only the metal lockers remained.

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The firefighters were no match for Nature's fury.

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A burned out car beside Okanagan Lake.

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Fire devastation in the town of Barriere.

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Amazingly, the headlights survived the intense heat.

Bus
Not even the school bus was spared.

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More fire damage in Barriere.

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A fire ravaged scrap yard.

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The fire was gone but the scars will remain for a long time.