LAKE COUNTRY – The Okanagan Centre wildfire destroyed eight homes in the last week but it could have been a lot worse.
The 50 hectare blaze started Saturday, July 5 and residents of Nighthawk Road, Long Road and Tyndall Road were evacuated.
Lake Country Fire Chief Steve Windsor says this was the first time many residents were able to see their homes and assess the damage.
“The only individuals that were down there prior to this were the people who had their homes destroyed,” Windsor says. “For the other 30 plus homes, this would be their first opportunity to be down there.”
Nighthawk Drive was hit the hardest. Most homes, aside from being covered in dried, red fire retardant, appeared untouched by fire, while next door nothing but wet ash and cinder remain.
Windsor says the fire grew so quickly that putting it out from the ground was next to impossible.
“It didn’t matter, I don’t think, how much equipment we had on the scene,” he said. “The thing that saved most of the houses was that air tanker support. Without it we would have lost, I’m sure, that whole neighbourhood.”
It could be a while before invstigators determine how the fire started.
“You may find a cigarette butt on the side of the road but maybe that had been there for a month,” Windsor says. “There are ways of ascertaining how long these things have been there… but it takes time.”
The District of Lake Country has arranged a town hall meeting tonight for residents returning home. It will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 20 at the Winfield Memorial Hall.
Representatives from the B.C. Wildfire and a company that supplies fire retardant will be on hand to provide information and answer questions regarding cleanup and recovery.
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