Grassfire put out within ‘a stones throw’ from some homes

Bud Gottfriedson and his family was woken up when two grass fires were within 100 metres of his home

At about 4 a.m. Saturday morning, Bud Gottfriedson was woken up by a phone call saying a grassfire was burning just up from his house at the side of Highway 3 near the Lower Similkameen Indian Band office.

“All of us neighbours got a phone call,” he said Saturday afternoon. “It’s quite the adrenaline rush being woken up at 4 a.m. because of fire.”

A home support worker attended the house shortly after the call to evacuate his wife, who is in a wheelchair, and take her to the band office.

He and his daughter Rachel stayed to help fight the grassfire with neighbours.

As he and others started to work on the smaller fire burning up on the highway, a second fire, this one closer to his house, was spotted.

“I was standing by the tractor, so I could do a fire line or something. Then the fire popped up down below us. It was a little tense, the wind was blowing pretty good. The wind was blowing straight at us,” he said.

Gottfriedson said about six homes were in the area of the grassfire.

Related: Update: Structures still at risk from Snowy Mountain fire

The Keremeos Volunteer Fire Department pulled its trucks and members from suppression efforts on Chopaka Road where 21 properties have been evacuated and are under threat from the Snowy Mountain wildfire. Other volunteer departments in neighbouring commutnies deployed to provide mutual aid for Keremeos also attended the grassfire.

Gottfriedson said the fire spread quickly and was about 70 metres from his home while it was a “stone’s throw away,” from other homes.

“It was close. I have a couple of out buildings on the property, tractors and farm vehicles all over the yard and horses in the barn,” he said.

The fires forced the closure of Highway 3 in the area for several hours in the early morning.

Crews and residents worked for about six hours to put the fires out. Several firefighters stayed to monitor for hot spots.

“It was too much stress for 4 a.m.,” he said.

Related: Keremeos firefighters working night patrols as Snowy Mountain fire rains ash, embers

BC Wildfire is investigating the cause of the fire, which they have deemed to be human-caused.

After taking about an hour nap after the fire was out, Gottfriedson took a helicopter ride to check on his grazing land on top Snowy Mountain.

He said his grazing area was untouched by the fire, but several other parcels of ranch land were torched.

“Imagine looking up there and there is nothing left but match sticks standing and the ground looks like briquets. The ground is grey and the trees are black,” he said.

Gottfriedson, who grew up in the area, said he’s never seen a fire like this.

“I’ve heard about 50 years ago or more, there was a big fire like this. But this is the biggest fire I’ve seen other than the few I’ve seen burning in Washington and Montana,” he said.

At the time of this posting the Snowy Mountain fire was almost 11,000 hectares in size and was considered out of control and zero per cent contained.

Just Posted

Blaze near Olalla grows to 527 hectares

The Old Tom Creek fire that started Aug. 15 is burning near Keremeos

Chance of showers may not be enough to rid Okanagan of smoke

Wind and chance of thunderstorms competing factors in this week’s forecast

Darke Lake residents under evacuation alert

Fire crews battling wildfire in rural community west of Summerland

Second annual Punjabi Mela Festival goes Sunday

Organizers of this year’s Punjabi Mela Festival hoping to top the $15,000 raised last year.

Penticton businessman planning run for council

Jason Cox making “worst kept secret in Penticton” official

Filmmaker captures the smoke that enveloped the Shuswap

Check out this video of the haze that blanketed the Salmon Arm

Former B.C. premier Christy Clark criticizes feds for buying pipeline

The $4.5 billion purchase of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline second worst decision, she said

Williamson the buzz as Vernon Vipers open camp

Talk around training camp Monday at Kal Tire Place was all about Jagger Williamson.

‘Takes more courage to fail’: B.C. ultra-marathon swimmer reflects on cancelled try at record

Susan Simmons halted her swim from Victoria to Port Angeles and back because of hypothermia

Animals moved from B.C. Interior shelters to make way for pets displaced by wildfires

The Maple Ridge SPCA houses animals to make space for pets evacuated from B.C.’s burning interior.

Spokane man enlists 500,000+ box fans to blow wildfire smoke back to B.C.

Spokane man Caleb Moon says he’s had enough with smoky skies from B.C.’s forest fires blanketing his city

Feds agree to look at easing jury secrecy as part of review

At issue is a law that forbids jurors from talking about closed-door deliberations

Forest fuel work needed to slow wildfires, B.C. premier says

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan joins John Horgan for tour

Most Read