Homeowners closest to the interface zone of the Christie Mountain wildfire southeast of Penticton, B.C., are praising the efforts of firefighters for saving their homes.
Janet Heidt’s Christie Mountain Lane property backs onto the rugged mountainside, and fire crews told her the inferno came within 100 yards — scorching a backyard fence.
“The ground crew, because there are no helicopters at night, must have done an absolutely fantastic job, and I am so grateful to them and everybody who helped and participated in any way. Our whole neighbourhood wouldn’t have been here if it wasn’t for them,” she said.
Rubble is all that remains after excavators tore down what was left of the only home destroyed by the wildfire after an ember ignited the roof’s cedar shakes.
“I didn’t know them that well, but anytime anybody loses their home and everything in it, it’s a disaster. I really feel for them,” Heidt said of her neighbour’s home across the street.
Franjo Farbas also lives a few doors down. He and his wife just moved into the hillside home one month ago, but the pair weren’t home when the wildfire broke out.
They failed to make it home in time, he said, before the area was shut down due to the dangerous nature of the out-of-control blaze which scorched more than 2,000 hectares of land.
“Crossing your fingers right, hoping that it’s going to be OK,” he said. “We got some help, as well as food and clothing and stuff.
“We were lucky; we stayed with our daughter in Okanagan Falls, so we didn’t need hotels.”
An evacuation order for 319 properties in the Heritage Hills subdivision was rescinded on Tuesday, although the area remains under an evacuation alert.
The BC Wildfire Service has also classified the Christie Mountain wildfire as “being held”, meaning it’s not expected to spread beyond its existing boundaries.
“We hardly had any damage here… that is obvious anyway. It’s great, we are very grateful,” Farbas said.