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59 wedding guests rescued from boat reception on Okanagan Lake

Kelowna Cruises stock photo. www.kelownacruises.com

This isn’t exactly how you’d expect to spend the first few hours after saying “I do.”

A bride and groom, along with their 57 wedding guests, had to be rescued from their reception aboard a Kelowna cruise boat on Sunday night after being hit by a severe windstorm.

Kelowna Cruises owner, Mike Reddecliff, was the ship’s captain Sunday.

“It was the worst storm I’ve seen [on Okanagan Lake] in my six years [here],” said Reddecliff.

READ MORE: Windstorm leaves trail of destruction in Kelowna

According to Reddecliff, gusts of wind are the norm on the lake, but they’re usually fairly brief. Sunday night the wind didn’t let up, so Reddecliff called for help just before 10 p.m.

Along with the bumpy ride, passengers could also see the full force of the flames from the Bear Creek wildfire.

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“Up above us, we were watching the fire spread.”

READ MORE: Fire officials ‘amazed’ no one hurt in Bear Creek fire

After receiving the call, Kelowna and Peachland fire boats rescued the group.

“The water was extremely rough with strong winds,” said Kelowna deputy fire chief Larry Hollier.

Fire crews said Kelowna Cruises staff followed the proper emergency procedures for a situation like this.

“The crew did a great job,” said Hollier. “Everyone was in life jackets when we arrived.”

Everyone on board was transported to fire boats safely and there were no reports of injuries.

Reddecliff confirmed there was significant cosmetic damage to the top deck of the boat, with deck covers, tables and chairs damaged or destroyed.

Fire officials said the passengers were taken to West Harbour Resort and bused back to Kelowna.

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