The Penticton Fire Department's rescue boat at the scene of a plane crash on Skaha Lake in April 2011.

The Penticton Fire Department's rescue boat at the scene of a plane crash on Skaha Lake in April 2011.

Storm sparks flurry of rescue calls on Okanagan lakes

Emergency workers from Penticton, Naramata, Summerland and Peachland were all on the water Friday to help boaters in distress

Emergency responders took to the water Friday afternoon, as an intense thunderstorm sparked a flurry of marine rescue calls on local lakes.

“People were just overwhelmed by the sudden change of weather,” said Naramata Fire Chief Will McCutcheon.

His department first dispatched its rescue boat to a report of a capsized sailboat on Okanagan Lake near the Summerland Marina. Upon arrival, rescuers found the sailboat on its side with its mast in the water, and helped the two people aboard get the vessel righted.

“They were actually doing pretty good,” McCutcheon said of the sailors, but “left alone they would have been floundering until someone else came along.”

The Naramata team then motored to a report of a small boat in the middle of the lake that was being pounded by wind and waves. McCutcheon said three females aboard that craft were unharmed and picked up by another boater.

A third call was sent to the Naramata team of a craft beached on the rocks near Okanagan Mountain Park, however, the chief said his crew was tied up so the report was passed to the Peachland Fire Department.

McCutcheon praised the boaters who assisted the fire department and those in distress, and said the quick onset of the storm highlights the need for life-jackets.

“A lot of people have them” in their boats, he said, but “people really need to wear them.”

While the Naramata crew battled the elements on Okanagan Lake, the Penticton Fire Department was dispatched to Skaha Lake after a man was spotted clinging to the side of a boat.

By the time rescuers arrived, however, the distressed boater had already been picked up by another vessel, said Capt. Ken Fotherby. The department then received report that a wind-surfer had gone under, but the person was able to make it back to shore safely before help arrived.

Fotherby said Friday’s storm made for bumpy water.

“It was pretty violent there for a while, and then all of a sudden it just stopped,” he said.

“If it gets really windy and you can see the weather change like that, get to shore.”

Meanwhile, the Summerland Fire Department was called out during the storm to check on a boat spotted bobbing in Okanagan Lake off Peach Orchard Road. Assistant Fire Chief Chad Gartrell said the boat was anchored, however, with no one aboard.

The storm also caused significant damage on land in Oliver, where it uprooted trees and damaged a building-supply store’s roof.

More calls came in on Sunday evening when the wind whipped up again and lightning storms rolled through. Penticton Deputy Chief Dave Spalding said they were called out to Okanagan Lake around 8:47 p.m. when a rafter found himself in trouble. People onboard a dragon boat noticed a man hugging his raft after being pushed out too far exiting the river channel to swim back to shore. The dragon boat provided assistance until the fire department got there to take him to shore. A second call came in at 9:20 p.m. on Okanagan Lake, with Naramata assisting. Spalding said the two departments searched the lake for an hour and a half before coming across three people in a boat that had lost power and was drifting around. The fire departments towed the boat and got the occupants safely to shore.

“A strong message we want to put forward is that we always get winds that whip up without too much notice on the lakes and we get these thunderstorms that come around. People really have to watch the weather and listen to the weather reports. Certainly both Friday and Sunday, there were thunderstorm watches issued and warnings of possible high winds, damaging winds and hail,” said Spalding.

The high winds on Okanagan Lake on Sunday evening caused damage to the Penticton Fire Department boat, which is now under repair and Spalding expects they won’t get it back until after the weekend.  Until then, Naramata Fire Department and Okanagan Falls Fire Department will continue to provide rescue service.

 

 

Just Posted

(File photo)
Supreme Court Justice rules Bay has to pay Penticton’s Cherry Lane mall

The ruling found that there had been no unavoidable delay preventing the Bay from paying their rent

Summerland cidery Millionaires' Row is hosting a Father's Day car and art show. (Facebook)
Vintage cars, art and cider for Father’s Day

Summerland’s Millionaires’ Row Cider Co. is hosting the car and art show

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

James Miller, the managing editor at the Penticton Herald, has been voted in for Jake Kimberley’s vacated council seat. (Submitted)
James Miller elected as Penticton city councillor

Penticton also voted yes to allowing up to 25 years for a Skaha Marina contract

The Eyes of the Tigers on the 2021 Beer Run on June 19. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton Beer Runners take trip around local beaches and brews

Over 160 people signed up to come back after the 2020 run was cancelled

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed Eli Beauregard facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Starting in 2022, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District is extending dog control to the entire Electoral Area D. (Stock photo)
Dog control bylaw passes in Shuswap area despite ‘threatening’ emails

CSRD board extending full dog control in Electoral Area D starting next year

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read