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Worrying week for residents

Deborah Pfeiffer

Residents in the vicinity of the Apex fire spent the week packing up belongings and watching flames jump from one hill to the next above their homes.

Some stayed while their family members and friends packed up and left, while others were separated from their horses and other beloved pets.

"It has all been a bit of a blur, and I'm sure no one has slept that good around here for the last three nights," said Mark Kildaw, on Friday.

The fire broke out Tuesday afternoon off of Apex Mountain Road, above the Apex Mountain Guest Ranch, and  spread up nearby hillsides.

Forestry crews  arrived on scene, and were still battling the fire with helicopters and ground crews as of Friday.

An evacuation alert went into affect for thirteen properties on Green Mountain Road and Apex Mountain Road, and was still in effect late in the week.

Kildaw, who lives with his family on Green Mountain Road, said when he first saw the fire Tuesday, he didn't expect it to grow, but then the winds picked up and blew it over the hills.

On Wednesday, his wife and kids packed up and went to her parents' house in Kelowna.

"Wednesday was really bad, that's the first day it looked like an out of control forest fire," he said.

By Thursday and Friday, he and other neighbours were getting the sense the fire was moving away, but still weren't entirely comfortable.

"If the winds switch it could change," he said. "I am just here in case things get ugly and neighbours need help."

Down the road, Meredith Essler was taking belongings she and others packed up Wednesday night, back to the house.

That night, the fire moved within 10 feet of the home, and she and most of her family left.

"It was quite dramatic with the embers falling and the wind blowing," she said. "I knew we weren't going to die, but it was go time."

She described the entire week since the fire started as intense. Making it better was the hard work of the forestry crews, who she and other family members fed and thanked.

Esther Minty chose to spend the week at her historic guest ranch on Apex Mountain Road, making sure the flames didn't get too close.

On Wednesday, she evacuated her horses, as well as dogs, cats and chickens, with the help of friends.

She later brought some of the animals back, when it looked like the fire was going in the direction where they were staying.

"It was a tough week," she said. "We really spent it on the edge."

The last update stated the fire was 313 hectares and 50 percent contained. The evacuation alert was still in affect.

Kildaw said if there was any good to come out of this, it was that it brought neighbours closer together.

"You get a better sense of community, because you get to know your neighbours and everyone is helping each other out," he said.

 

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