Big White Ski Resort workers displaced after snow smashes into building | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Big White Ski Resort workers displaced after snow smashes into building

Snow smashed into a four-plex building at Big White, March 1, 2021.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Gary Leck
March 02, 2021 - 12:08 PM

Big White Ski Resort workers have been displaced after a large amount of snow from a neighbouring rooftop smashing into a fourplex yesterday.

Snow that accumulated from a roof slid into a fourplex on Snow Pines Road, causing significant damage to the building at roughly 5 p.m., March 1.

The incident displaced 23 people who are currently being housed at the Inn at Big White, said Big White Fire Department fire chief Chris Cormack.

Five other people who have been displaced are staying with friends and one is staying with family in West Kelowna, he said.

No injuries were reported, and one engine, a command vehicle and seven department members were on the scene of the fire last night.

“We’re just waiting on a structural engineer to access the building and we got everyone out last night,” Cormack said. “Right now Canadian Red Cross is looking after them.”

The workers will be looked after for the next 72 hours, before their insurance kicks in if they have it.

"In terms of how long they're going to be out of the house, it's really up to the owners of the building," said Regional District of Kootenay Boundary emergency program coordinator Mark Stephens.

This is the time of year where snow on metal roofs will shift, said Big White senior vice president Michal Ballingall. He urged residents to avoid walking under them as it's dangerous. Ballingall said the people affected by the incident were staff at Big White Ski Resort.

Ed Henczel, with the Central Okanagan Search and Rescue, said the incident also speaks to the avalanche conditions currently within the region.

“It’s a really poor snowpack,” he said.

Avalanche Canada has listed the Interior avalanche risk as moderate at treeline and alpine levels.

Historically, March is the deadliest month for avalanche fatalities, likely due to a combination of snowpack and human factors. In 2008, a skier died after being buried in an avalanche at Big White, according to a CTV report.

The first big warm up can shake things up, especially when we have cold snowpacks with persistent weak layers like the ones currently in play throughout western Canada. In addition to tricky avalanche conditions, longer and warmer days can lead to “blue sky syndrome” where people potentially underestimate risk and let our guards down, according to Avalanche Canada.

For more information on snowpack and avalanche risk visit Avalanche Canada’s website.

Snow smashed into a fourplex at Big White, Monday, March 1, 2021.
Snow smashed into a fourplex at Big White, Monday, March 1, 2021.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Gary Leck

Snow smashed into a four-plex building at Big White, March 1, 2021.
Snow smashed into a four-plex building at Big White, March 1, 2021.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Gary Leck

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