An approximately one hectare brush fire damaged two homes and forced the short-term evacuation of forty properties along Westwood Drive, in the West Bench subdivision near Penticton, on Thursday morning.
It was a frightening scene for residents after the brush fire broke out shortly after 9 a.m.
A helicopter quickly doused the flames with water and city firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze on the ground.
Neighbours scrambled to protect their homes with sprinklers.
“We’re just worried about brush fire… we packed up and my husband is watering down the roof,” said one woman.
“We’re just all trying to help each other out with sprinklers and all,” said another.
Embers from the fire landed on two cedar shake roofs.
Fanned by the winds, the embers ignited the shakes.
But firefighters managed to limit the damage and prevent the fire from spreading further into the homes or nearby properties.
Marylou Lancaster watched as firefighters ripped off the smoldering shingles from her roof.
She was home with her granddaughter when the fire broke out Thursday morning.
“This policeman came and said you need to get out now. So I grabbed her and a couple of my mom’s paintings and that’s it,” she said.
Penticton Fire Chief Larry Watkinson said it was a close call.
“It was about as close as you’re going to get to having a wildland interface fire losing structures, we literally, the fire backed up right into people’s properties, onto porches,” he said.
The fire ignited in dry brush and fallen trees.
“You can imagine a completely dry pine tree that’s 150 feet tall involved in fire with wind driven from the north spreading from tree to tree,” he said.
“It’s extraordinary to see, intimidating to see none the less.”
The fire is now 100% contained. Residents were allowed to return home Thursday afternoon.
Fire investigators are trying to determine a cause.
WATCH: Global Okanagan’s ongoing coverage of fire season 2017