The Disastrous Fire and Reconstruction at Myra Canyon
In mid-August of 2003 a lightning strike in Okanagan Mountain Park started a rapid growth forest fire. The massive fire burned for nearly a month consuming 270 homes and 26,000 hectares of forest and parkland, including 12 of the wooden trestles, while damaging the two steel bridges, the trail itself, rock faces and many amenities built up over the past ten years.
The Premier of BC formed a task force that included MLA Rick Thorpe, representing the province, Senator Ross Fitzpatrick, representing the federal government, Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray and Ken Campbell, past president of MCTRS. The Task Force recommended rebuilding the trestles to resemble the original structures, both for historic reasons as well as to showcase the versatility and dependability of BC forest products.
The reconstruction costs were eligible for the Federal/Provincial Disaster Financial Assistance Agreement. As the Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park and the National Historic Site status had just been formally recognized, Myra Canyon had to be restored.
The trestle rebuilding was managed by the Myra Canyon Reconstruction Project Management Committee comprising members of MCTRS and BC Parks. Government funding was restricted to replacing the trestles plus any collateral damage directly related to the fire. Other improvement projects were and continue to be provided by MCTRS volunteers with donated funds. These enhancements include resurfacing the trail, clearing it from overgrowth and tree falls, installing interpretive signage, and repairing the decking and railings as needed.
Trestle 18 was the first to be rebuilt in the fall of 2004, just one year after the fire. Five more were completed in 2005, four in 2006, three in 2007 and the final one in early 2008. Some 54,000-people visited Myra Canyon in 2008.