A South Okanagan wildfire is continuing to pose a huge threat to homes in and around the city of Penticton.
The 2,000-hectare Christie Mountain wildfire broke out on Tuesday afternoon, and quickly led to an evacuation order affecting almost 320 homes and an alert involving nearly 3,800 properties.
But on Friday, winds not only picked up substantially but also changed direction.
They had been blowing in a northerly direction, but are now coming from the south, threatening hundreds of homes, including the Upper Evergreen neighbourhood, where residents have been on an alert for several days.
“The other day, we started getting some important documents and things that we could grab and get out that we absolutely need,” area resident Brad Caruso told Global News.
“But as the days have been going on and especially with the wind today, we are taking it a lot more seriously. We’ve had a lot of embers falling in the yard, so it’s kind of like I think today’s the make-or-break day.”
The neighbourhood has been swarming with fire officials putting in structure-protection infrastructure in place, and urging residents to put all of their patio furniture and other outdoor items inside to help curb the fire’s spread.
‘It’s just scary,” said resident Kate Trahan. “You work very hard to get to where you are in life and make tons of sacrifices and then Mother Nature … it’s up to her.”
Many residents spent the day watering down lawns and shrubbery, as advised by fire officials who were going door-to-door in an effort to educate residents on what role they can play in trying to save their homes.
“Just trying to get all of our dried plants as wet as we can, the ones that are closest to the house, so that they don’t spread the fire anymore,” said resident Tegan Graham.
The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen (RDOS) is asking everyone, both the residents on order and alert, to pre-register themselves with Emergency Social Services (ESS).
ESS is encouraging everyone to pre-register, even if people are staying with friends or family, as all evacuees are entitled to food and other vouchers. It’s also recommended to pre-register so that everyone is safely accounted for.
Click here to pre-register.