More than 10,000 people have fled their homes as a forest fire fringes the town of Kelowna in western Canada.

Yesterday the fire was burning along 170 square kilometers of the hills overlooking the town.

The blaze came dangerously close to Kelowna during Thursday night, fanned by strong winds that sent it across swathes of forest that had been clear-cut in an effort to contain it.

Kelowna is located in British Columbia's Okanagan valley, Canada's most important wine-producing region.

Late Thursday, the flames shot 60m above devastated pine forests near the town. High winds swept them closer before dying down around dawn.

About 80 firefighters and 85 members of the Canadian Air Force were fighting the fire.

More than 17,500 British Colombia residents have been evacuated during August, with more than 850 fires burning and 3,000 firefighters labouring to contain them.