Kettle Valley Trestles Are Burning

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by K.V.Div, Sep 5, 2003.

  1. K.V.Div

    K.V.Div Member

    The Okanagan Mountain Park fire flaired up again yesterday, and moved east from Belleview Creek into the Myra Canyon.
    The fire, currently standing at 23,000 hectares tore through the southern suberbs of Kelowna B.C. 12 days ago, destroying 238 homes and has started to claim the historic Kettle Valley Railway trestles in Myra Canyon.:( :( :(
    The bridges, totalling 17 in number are located along the old Kettle Valley's Carmi Subdivision from milepost 85 to milepost 89.4 and remained in place after the Canadian Pacific lifted the rails in 1979 and were part of the Trans Canada Trail.
    The area was declared a National Heritage Site this last January.
    It appears that the bridges at MP 87.4 (300ft frame trestle), MP 88.0 (75ft frame trestle), MP 88.2 (420ft frame trestle), 88.4 (270ft frame trestle)and MP 89.4 (360ft frame trestle) have been completly destroyed while the decking on the West Fork Canyon (Pooley) Creek bridge, MP 87.9 (721ft curved steel trestle) has been badly damaged.
    Fire crews state that, given the current wind and weather conditions, it is unlikly that they will be able to save any of the remaining structures.
    Truly a sad day.:( :( :(

  2. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    It's always a sad sad time when we lose historic structures :( :( :(
  3. Tyson Rayles

    Tyson Rayles Active Member

    Sorry to hear that Terry, it is a shame to lose em'! :(
  4. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    It's awful to lose things that you've heard about but never seen.
    None of this, of course, gets reported by the newspapers.
    I've been worried about the Cranbrooke railway museum. Is there any information on that?
  5. K.V.Div

    K.V.Div Member

    I was born and spent a lot of time growing up in Cranbrook and I graduated from high school with Garry Anderson, who is the honcho at the Canadian Museum of Railway Travel (nee Cranbrook Railway Museum). Also, My father lives in Cranbrook.
    Currently, the Lamb Creek fire (12,000 hectars) is about 6 miles south-west of Cranbrook and about 8 miles from the museum. My father's place is also 8 miles away, but further to the east.
    The guards are holding and there are 350 fire fighters on the fire as well as about 120 structural fire fighters looking after homes and the city itself.
    Also there are 17 helicopters, 2 air tankers and over 70 peices of heavy equipment on the fire.
    That may seem like a lot, but there were over twice as many firefighters and almost 3 times as much equipment on the Okanagan Mountain Park fire when it tore through the southern suberbs of Kelowna.
    At that time it was classed as a "Category 6 firestorm" which was generating its own winds, fanning flames thet were documented at over 300ft high and some fire workers described it as a "Large Tornado Of Fire" moving sometimes at over 60 miles per hour.
    Currently, All we can do is pray for rain and lots of it, British Columbia is in its dryest summer (June, July and August) in over 60 years and, in some places, Ever!
    Here in Victoria, we have had less than one half of an inch of rain in the past 3 months and none in the past 4 weeks.
    The southern half of this provence needs about 1 week of hard steady rain (Something along the lines of "Biblical Proportions" would do nicely), but it does not look like we will get much anytime soon, so the provence burns.

  6. billk

    billk Active Member

    For the metric-deficient among us (including me, I had to look it up), a hectare is a bit less than 2-1/2 acre, 23,000 of'em is almost 90 sq mi.
  7. K.V.Div

    K.V.Div Member

    The smoke cleared this morning (Friday) to reveal that the fire claimed yet one more trestle last night and damaged another.
    The bridge at MP 86.6 (240ft frame trestle) has been destroyed and the East Fork, Canyon (Klo) creek bridge, MP 86.5 (365ft steel trestle) has had its wooden deck burned off.:(
    Looks like it is only a matter of time for the remaining trestles.

  8. rsn48

    rsn48 Member

    This is a story that appeared in the Vancouver Province newspaper today:

    Friday, September 05, 2003
    Province Newspaper

    KELOWNA -- Ken Campbell compares his love affair with the Kettle Valley Railway trestles to marriage.

    "It was love at first sight. It's really a special place," Campbell said yesterday.

    Considering the blood and sweat the Kelowna resident poured into restoring the internationally recognized heritage structures, it's no wonder his heart broke when he learned that all 18 mainly wooden trestle bridges would likely be destroyed in the Okanagan Mountain fire.

    "It's a pretty sad day around here," he said. "It's a huge loss, economically, psychologically and emotionally. They're really irreplaceable because each of them is a heritage structure. That's why I'm very, very upset today."

    On Wednesday night, the wind-fuelled fire spread into Myra Canyon, where the sporadic trestle bridges spanned 10 kilometres of scenic gaps over rivers and valleys. By last night the flames had devoured five of the bridges, despite fire guards dug around the structures and buckets of long-term fire retardant dumped on top of them.

    Construction of the bridges began in 1914 and took two years to complete. They were part of a Canadian Pacific line linking the ore- and timber-rich Kootenays to the Lower Mainland.

    "Every one of them is different in design and structure," he said. "It was some of the most difficult railway-building terrain in Canada. It's a very deep canyon and the railways hung on the side of the canyon walls."

    The rail line ceased service in 1972. In recent years, the bridges' high elevation provided hikers and mountain bikers with an unmatched view of the Okanagan Valley.

    Campbell moved to Kelowna from Ottawa in 1993. In his early search for a place to hike, he stumbled across the famed trail. That same year, Campbell joined hundreds of volunteers who for three years hammered "millions of nails" while installing rails and boardwalks. After the project was completed, he became president of the Myra Canyon Trestle Restoration Society.

    "We've been maintaining them ever since," he said.

    The trestle bridges have since earned international fame as a tourist attraction, and several tour operators rely on the former rail bed.
  9. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Gee, that's terrible, but thanks for the reports, Terry and Rick, will say a prayer.
  10. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    Even here in Switzerland the papers brought a report about the devastating forest fires around Kelowna. In my paper there was even a night shot of Kelowna, with the horizon of the hill behind the town silhouetted by an eerie red glow.

    And yes, they even mentioned the loss of five trestles of the Kettle Valley Ry - so far. They even said that 13 more bridges are threatened. Let's hope for rain!

    Our sincere wishes for an improvement of the situation are with you, Terry and Rick and all the other endangered people up there!

  11. rsn48

    rsn48 Member

    8 are affected now.
  12. K.V.Div

    K.V.Div Member

    The forest service has confirmed that a total of nine are now gone. The trestle at MP 96.4 (194ft frame trestle) is gone and 2 more as yet unidentified.
    This is starting to feel like a deathwatch.:(

  13. rsn48

    rsn48 Member

    As I write this 7 September, Sunday, 12 of the 18 bridges have now been destroyed.
  14. K.V.Div

    K.V.Div Member

    As reported by Rick, Only 4 of the wooden trestles remain standing.:(
    The bridges at MP 85.9 (434ft frame trestle), MP 85.45 (285ft frame trestle), MP 85.35, (240ft frame trestle), MP 85.3 (145 ft frame trestle) and MP 85.0 (180ft frame trestle) have been destroyed.
    Last report showed the fire heading towards yet another Kelowna housing Subdivision in an area known as Galighers Canyon.
    Some fire officials say that the fire may burn untill the winter snows and may even burn underground over winter to emerge again in the spring.

  15. K.V.Div

    K.V.Div Member

    The rain finally came on Monday and, along with more cooler and humid weather in the following 4 days, the fire has finally been stopped.
    While the fire is no longer spreading, it is still only 80% contained and fire fighters continue to work at hot spots while keeping any threats away from housing and the remaining 4 trestles.
    The federal government has pledged 1/3 of the cost to rebuild the bridges, while the provincal government, while promising help, has not commited to anything yet, while the private sector has already started to fundraise.
    Any rebuilding will probably start in the late spring.

  16. before and after?

    are there any pics of the destroyed bridge areas or the four surviving bridges yet?
  17. K.V.Div

    K.V.Div Member

    The area is still in the mop up stages and the general public is not yet allowed in, however, Kelowna's Castanet site has the following link which is updated by events, as they happen.
    Check it out at:
    On it there are further links showing some shots of the trestles after the fire. Also, check out the photo gallery links, specificly the link: KVR Myra Canyon, which shows many shots of the trestles as they were.
    Other links in the photo gallery have shots of the fire as it first threatend, then tore into the southern suberbs of Kelowna.
    also, there are animated thermal maps showing the fire's progress from the start.
    I will post any other information as it becomes available.


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