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'I felt I couldn't save my house'

video by Deborah Pfeiffer

Cheryle and Ken Brasseur are happy their home is still intact, after a raging wildfire surrounded it on Wednesday afternoon.

The fire broke out around 2 p.m. in the Old RIchter Pass Road area, west of Osoyoos, and quickly spread.

"We are feeling really thankful to be here and glad the house is standing, with only smoke damage," said Ken Brasseur, as he sat in front of the house Thursday. "We didn't really lose anything."

It was in the early afternoon that Cheryle Brasseur walked outside their Kruger Mountain Road home and smelled smoke immediately.

She went around the side of the house to check and could see the smoke coming up from below.

"We had our two grandchildren here, so when I saw the fire starting to progress, we got the kids in the truck, while Ken hooked up the boat and got the hoses out of the garage area," she said. "It was terrifying and I knew I had to get the kids out of there.".

While she left with the children, her husband stayed behind to battle the blaze as best he could.

"I started trying to soak down the grass below the barn area and then the wind changed and the fire started going toward the house," he said. "At that point I had a sprinkler system up on the deck and garden hoses with nozzles there as well."

Some others came up to help initially, but they left when the fire got out of hand.

At that point, according to Brasseur, he was racing around trying to soak both ends of the house.

"I was at the point where I felt I couldn't save my house, and that's when the air tanker dropped retardant," he said. "After that the firefighters arrived and there were people all of a sudden coming out of the woodwork."

Another resident in the area, said he could see smoke off in the distance as he drove home. When he got to his house, he could see it had burned close by and he could still see flames up the hill.

He got out the hose and started watering the roof, and basically everyone who lives in the area was doing the same thing, he said.

"It was pretty scary," he said. "The bottom line is forest fires are never good."

Jonathan Finlay, initial attack crew leader based out of the Penticton Fire Zone, described the fire as a very challenging one.

He said around 15 hectares burned and structures in the area were threatened.

On Thursday, they continued mop up operations, with 36 firefighters on site.

He said there has been no spread of the fire since the initial containment at around 6 p.m. on Wednesday, and there were no evacuations.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

He said overall the past week has been challenging, and they would like to ask the public to be very cautious with the fire danger rating throughout the Kamloops Fire Centre in high and in some places pushing extreme.

The extended weather outlook is for continued hot and dry conditions, and a little bit of a breeze is all it takes and things can change dramatically, he said.

He added that this season about 70 percent of the starts have been human caused, and they would love to slim that down, with any help appreciated.

Brasseur said he was grateful for all the help from firefighters, including members of the Osoyoos Fire Department, as well as neighbours.

"I just want to thank everyone," he said. "The response was good, considering how fast that fire came up the hill on a hot summer day, with the wind blowing the way it was."

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