Sep 10, 2012 / 5:22 pm
There were fewer people than usual at the Bliss Bakery and Bistro in Peachland Monday afternoon. Those who where there anxiously scanned the skies for signs of the fire, or talked with friends about the events of the day before.
Owner Darci Yeo admitted that from a business perspective things had slowed down but she was more worried abut the community and supporting everyone.
She showed that community spirit by delivering coffee and baked goods to RCMP officers manning blockades and firefighters at fire stations in the area.
"They have all been working hard up there for hours, so I felt like they needed a dose of caffeine," she said. "Right now I am more worried about them and my friends than my business."
There was no business at all at the IGA shopping centre, which was threatened by the flames from the Trepanier Creek Wildfire running down the ridge above.
Other shops and gas stations were also shut down as firefighters continued to battle the blaze.
Along Highway 97 through Peachland, police officers blocked roads while accessing areas that were evacuated. Some desperate homeowners tried to get around roadblocks but were quickly turned around.
Since the fire started Sunday afternoon, 1,550 people were evacuated and 432 put on alert.
Evacuees staying at The Summerland Motel tried to make life as normal as possible for younger members of families, while keeping a close eye on news reports telling them when they could go home.
Ed Berry, who was staying at the motel with his wife, daughter and grandchildren, was taking it all in stride.
"We were at the Peachland Fall Fair and my wife was receiving prizes for her baking and flower arrangements from the mayor, when he made an announcement about how serious the situation was," he said. "So we got all of our important papers and our dog, Marigold, and got out."
Since leaving their 6th Avenue home, they have received nothing but kindness from strangers, he said.
"When I got to the Petro-Canada in Summerland I asked where the evacuation center was, and the lady working there said don't worry you can stay at my place," he said. "That was overwhelming, a shock to the system."
At the Summerland Arena and Curling Centre, one of two evacuation centres, he found things to be well organized and vouchers accessible.
"It really has been no different from staying home, except we slept in separate beds," he said. "And for the most part the kids are happy, they don't have to go to school."
Karen Lathey with the motel said she and employees worked frantically to ready rooms for incoming evacuees.
In all about 30 people showed up to stay after registering at the arena.
"All the rooms were taken, there is even a family with five kids as well as dogs and cats," she said. "Even people who couldn't get through on the highway ended up staying here."
Residents of waterfront homes in Peachland, who were placed on alert, sat in their front yards or strolled by the lake as they awaited word on what's next.
"At first we thought we might have to leave in a hurry if the wind changed, but we decided to wait it out," said Jack Randle.
He had nothing but praise for the firefighters battling the blaze.
"The helicopters and water tankers were loading up rapidly, and I'm sure that is how the IGA was saved as well as homes that were threatened," he said. "They did a fantastic job."
As for when it will all end, that was still undetermined as of Monday afternoon. Smoke was still visible from Highway 97 and blockades remained in place well into the afternoon.
"There will be an end when we get everything contained. It all depends now on the winds and the weather," said Peachland Fire Chief Grant Topham.
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