How firefighters are trying to protect Penticton homes against looming Christie Mountain fire | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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How firefighters are trying to protect Penticton homes against looming Christie Mountain fire

Randy Law is heading a structural protection team on Evergreen Drive in Penticton today, Aug. 21, 2020.
August 21, 2020 - 2:50 PM

It's a hot, windy afternoon on Evergreen Drive, but that isn’t stopping a team of firefighters collected from all parts of the province as they work to protect a Penticton neighbourhood from the Christie Mountain wildfire.

Randy Law from Brentwood Bay, Vancouver Island, is a structure protection specialist directing the set up of sprinklers in the area this afternoon, Aug. 21.

He says a lot of resources have gathered in Penticton from around the province to help local departments fight the Christie Mountain fire.

Today, Law’s structural protection team is setting up protection as strong, gusty south winds revived the fire, forcing it north toward Penticton.

The Evergreen Drive neighbourhood is included in an evacuation alert for sections of Penticton.

Law says incident command organized strike teams and structural protection units and decided on a plan of action.

Up on Evergreen Drive, that meant starting with highest priority area at the end of the street.

They work back into the neighbourhood from there, protecting nearby ground with sprinklers, which also create a ‘humidity bubble’ around the area.

“Fire reaches it and causes it to walk around it. It doesn’t want to burn wet stuff. These houses look fantastic. On the whole they look pretty good,” he says, referring to residential efforts to ‘fire smart’ their properties.

Backing the structural protection unit are pumper trucks and other teams of firefighters.

"In a situation like this, they stay mobile, so they are ready to handle any fire that is ‘spotting,’ burning embers that fly in front of the fire,” Law says. "At the top of Evergreen is an open area which affords some protection for firefighters.”

A sprinkler unit used as part of the structural protection process in wildfire firefighting.
A sprinkler unit used as part of the structural protection process in wildfire firefighting.

B.C. Wildfire is also involved, with helicopters working this afternoon working the ridge above Evergreen Drive.

He says the sprinkler units have been deployed on the ground rather than on the homes because of the fire safe condition of the neighbourhood.

“We normally put them on the homes when there’s more brush around. Here, there is a good chance firefighters will be able to stay. There’s different methods and different ways of doing it,” he says.

He’s hoping the effort is a pre-emptive one that won’t be needed.

“With any luck, the fire will continue to stay behind that ridge, but you prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” he says.

A structural protection layout on Evergreen Drive in Penticton.
A structural protection layout on Evergreen Drive in Penticton.

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