South Okanagan firefighters battle pair of blazes

Quick action from firefighting crews saved a house in Summerland and contained a wildfire near Okanagan Falls on Sunday

Quick action from firefighting crews saved a house in Summerland and contained a wildfire near Okanagan Falls on Sunday.

Summerland fire chief Glenn Noble said flames were about 10 feet from a house on Garnet Valley Road, just north of the Wildhorse Road intersection, when the fire department arrived on scene on Sunday just before 3 p.m. Noble said the fire was of medium size just below the residence.

“People were at home and they were doing a great job trying to fight it the best they could until we arrived but they didn’t have much in the way of resources for water,” said Noble. “I think neighbours were helping them as well and they all did a great job in trying to contain it. Luckily we were able to get there in time to save the houses and other structures with the assistance of BC Fire crews.”

The fire department requested air support, but called off the water tanker. Instead they had helicopters dropping water and a bird dog scouting the fire from above. Noble said the only damage the fire department noted was to the irrigation connection on the property which burned up in the fire.

“That is pretty insignificant compared to what could have happened. Our initial concern was protecting the house and the guys did a great job in protecting and getting the fire out there first,” said Noble.

Also on Sunday afternoon a wildfire ignited grasslands just west of Okanagan Falls at the junction of Fairview-White Lake Road.

The fire consumed 25 hectares of land before BC Fire crews could get a handle on it using 18 firefighters, four helicopters and the air tanker.

“It was quite aggressive becasue of how dry it is right now. Those grasses are cured and spread wildfires quite fast. The grass is almost like paper at this time of year,” said Michaela Swan, fire information officer. Once we were able to get fire retardant and water on it was really effective in containing the fire.”

The fire was contained early Sunday evening and crews maintained a watch on it overnight and well into Monday. Swan said the cause of the blaze remains under investigation. A wildfire that shut Highway 97 down for a few hours last week just north of Oliver also remains under investigation.