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Residents ready to move

Wednesday was a smoke, fire and worry filled day for residents of Apex Mountain Road and Green Mountain Road.

At the Apex Mountain Guest Ranch, they started evacuating animals early, while other neighbours in the area kept a watchful eye on the flames.

"We moved all our horses out, about 15, just cut them loose in a neighbour's hay field," said James Minty, the son of the ranch owner. "My mom sent her four dogs to Farleigh Lake where she has a friend and we just got the chickens out. This is all pretty long and scary, the first big fire here."

As of Wednesday afternoon, the ranch, along with other residences in the area of the fire were on evacuation alert.

Minty said the fire started around 2 p.m., Tuesday on Apex Mountain Road, up from where the ranch is at.

His mother, Esther Minty, called him at work, and they jumped on the roadside fire with a little homemade fire trailer.

They were there about an hour until forestry arrived on scene and asked them to pull out because they were going to water bomb.

"We gathered our stuff and headed out, and we started setting up equipment around mom's house around 6 p.m.," he said.

The family was assisted by two mountain bikers/friends, Steve Jackson and Dino Giurissevich, who were on their way up to Apex to do some trail maintenance and riding.

"As we rounded the corner, just after the old dilapidated barn, I noticed thick black smoke, rising up somewhere above Apex Ranch," said Giurissevich. "I have known Esther, the owner of the ranch for many years and thought we had better stop to see if she was OK or needed help."

The fire moved east, away from the house during the night, but the winds changed and it moved closer on Wednesday morning.

It was then, they chose to start moving the animals out.

Esther Minty said she has lived at the ranch for 42 years and never seen anything like this fire.

She, along with friends, were at the house Wednesday afternoon keeping an eye on the flames and smoke, and packing up, in case she had to leave.

Friend Laura Dunn, who lives on the ranch property, said they were waiting it out, because the ranch is a historical site.

"It has been the ranch for 42 years, and before that it was a lodge," she said. "We are staying here as long as possible, because it is an old house, with a lot of history to it, and it would burn quickly."

Others in the area, also seemed to want to stay to protect their homes.

Jim Mottishaw, forest protection officer, said that the initial start of the fire was roadside and human caused.

It started out as 30 hectares, grew to 60 overnight, and by early Wednesday afternoon had grown to 102 hectares.

There were at least four aircraft, different tanker groups, and three ground crews battling the blaze throughout the day, he said.

The Regional District Okanagan Similkameen Emergency Operations Centre issued the alert for homes in the immediate area.

Dunn and other neighbours were quick to thank the firefighters and everyone helping them out and also put out a plea for people to not throw their cigarettes out the window ever.

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