A truck pulling a trailer sparked a grass fire which spread rapidly just south of Vernon off Highway 97 MOnday, Sept. 7. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

UPDATE: Grass fire forces North Okanagan highway closure

Fully involved fire off Highway 97 near Kekuli Bay

A grass fire burning south of Vernon has spread approximately one kilometre and closed down a major artery.

A truck pulling a trailer sparked the blaze shortly before 1 p.m. Monday, Sept. 7 off Highway 97, near Kekuli Bay on Westridge Road.

All the occupants of the burning vehicle got out safely before crews were called to the area.

The fire is now approximately 35 hectares in size and has been classified as out of control. Those travelling between Vernon and Kelowna will see the smoke as they pass through the highway and can expect delays as crews are working to extinguish the wildfire. The southbound lane of Highway 97 is closed, with traffic backed up until Okanagan College’s Vernon campus.

No structures appear to be in danger.

Forestry crews have been called into action, and three air tankers and two helicopters are actioning the blaze.

Traffic is impacted mainly in the southbound lane, as the fire is burning on hillside next to the highway between the Greater Vernon landfill and the Predator Ridge turnoff at Bailey Road.

The fire is climbing the hill near the seed orchard and can be seen from Commonage Road near the regional compost facility.

Truck fire spreads to grass off Highway 97

Posted by Vernon Morning Star on Monday, September 7, 2020

There was a grass fire in the same vicinity last year.

READ MORE: Grass fire breaks out on highway south of Vernon

READ MORE: Lake Country fire deemed suspicious


@VernonNews
jennifer@vernonmorningstar.com

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A forestry crew member drives next to the flaming hillside off Highway 97 Monday, where a truck fire sparked a wildfire. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

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