Penticton and South Okanagan
Evacuees recall night of worry
Aug 21, 2013 / 5:00 am
Alex Sutton had no idea there was a fire burning behind his rural home, near Osoyoos, until someone knocked on his door Monday afternoon.
It was a neighbour coming by to tell him and his wife, there was a fire above them on the plateau and they should get out of there.
"We walked outside and looked up and sure enough the side of the plateau was engulfed in fire," he said. "We made preparations to leave the house and other neighbours were pouring into the yard helping us move the horses.
This one was a real surprise, we didn't think it would burn down the hillside."
The blaze now known as the Spotted Lake fire was discovered Monday and grew to the size of 14.9 hectares, according to fire information officer Michaela Swan.
Six houses on Kruger Mountain Road were evacuated, including the Sutton's. However, the residents were able to return to their homes within a few hours, after firefighters battled it on the ground and helicopters and air tankers tackled it from above.
In all, there were 35 firefighters, two helicopters and five air tankers at the height of the blaze, 10 km west of Osoyoos in an area known as the Kilpoola Estates.
The blaze is said to be human caused and was still under investigation on Tuesday.
Jim Mottishaw, the incident commander on scene, said Tuesday the incident was in patrol mode, with 12 people patrolling the burned hillside throughout the day. There was also an air tanker on hand and in addition crews were pumping out ot the lake, with a hose surrounding the entire fire.
Many of the residents impacted by Monday's fire, were also affected and evacuated during another fire in the area in 2010.
Sherry Linn, a resident of Old RIchter Pass Road, who was not evacuated, but was ready to go, said she remembers two fires, one in 1994 and the one in 2010.
The fire that threatened the rural area Monday, came the closest to her home, she said.
"I felt like I could stand on my deck and touch the helicopter that was scooping water out of the lake," she said. "It was just one of those things where you are in awe of what could happen and it is scary at the same time."
Sutton said he too was used to fires in the area, but this one was a major spectacle.
"We were told to stay up the street, and I thought our place was going to go for awhile," he said. "It was a good feeling when the choppers came."
While crews worked above them Tuesday, most residents went about their daily business, working on their rural properties and caring for their horses.
All were grateful for the firefighting effort the night before.
Sutton said he was sorry to learn the fire was human caused, just like the one three years ago.
"The other fire was in August with the exact same conditions as now," he said. "Nature doesn't play too much of a part when these fires start. I had a feeling right from the beginning this one was human caused."
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