Sep 10, 2012 / 12:41 am
The Mingo-Bedford family was settling in for a quiet Sunday evening at their Peachland home when they learned they were being evacuated.
The children bundled up in jackets and wrapped themselves in blankets, while their parents grabbed suitcases and boxes filled with valuables as flames climbed the hills above them.
The family was one of hundreds evacuated as the Trepanier wildfire tore through the Peachland area.
"We just got back from a trip to Saskatchewan, so we still had our suitcases packed and I got my photo albums that are irreplaceable and that was about it," said Shannon Mingo-Bedford."It was scary, the closest I have been to a fire ever."
The family did not have to drive far to find help. Down the road Emergency Support Services set up a reception centre at the Summerland Arena and Curling Club on Jubilee Road East .
There was also help available at the Lions Hall on Main Street in Westbank.
Dale Kronebusch, emergency services supervisor with the RDOS, said he estimated as many as 1,640 people were evacuated over the course of the evening.
Most went to the Lions Hall. By 10 p.m. at night less than 200 had shown up for assistance at the Summerland location.
Evacuees were provided with hotel and restaurant vouchers good for three days and comfort food including pizza at the arena.
"People appear to be OK, but there is some level of shock when they are ejected out," said Kronebusch. "It is also tough being a Sunday night when people have work and school the next day."
Some residents of Clements Crescent said they were going to stay put, despite the flames ripping across ridges above them, shouts of firefighters in the night and smoke filled air.
"I called my boss and told him Peachland is on fire, I may not be at work tomorrow, but there is still nothing here that tells me I have to leave my house right now," said Rob Billey, as he stood with his wife Sharm in the driveway.
Elsewhere it was a chaotic scene, as traffic backed up for miles on Highway 97 and RCMP vehicles and fire trucks rushed back and forth on Peachland streets.
One motorist said not only was he concerned about the flames in the distance, the high winds also caused a large tree to fall on the road in front of him.
"I am just trying to get home to Kelowna, so this has all been very interesting," said Andrew Child.
For others it was simply a much more dramatic Sunday than they expected.
"It was a surprise because it came so quickly," said Kurt Dornbierer, who was evacuated from his 6th Avenue home, along with his visitors from Switzerland.
"We got out with our most important documents and not much else," he said. "It has definitely been a bit of a shock."
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