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Kelowna  

Local ties to Cali fire

Alanna Kelly

A California winery owner with an Okanagan connection fought off a raging wildfire with his bare hands.

Jeff Harder, owner of Ex Nihilo Vineyards, described how his brother James battled the blaze through the night.

"It was horrific, he said it was like a war zone, his lungs were burning, smoke was so bad and the embers were flying, he basically needed ski googles," said Harder.

Video captured from the California winery shows the moments the fire rapidly raced towards them.

"He raced back towards the house where he and his neighbour, who lost his house, started fighting the fire," he said. "They fought the fire with five gallon buckets, two guys, running back and forth trying to put out the fire."

The two worked through the night and they managed to hold off the fire and saved it all. Five homes behind their property are now completely gone, along with Signorello Winery next door.

"He's pretty lucky," he said. "Fruit was still on the vines so sadly none of it's probably any good,"

B.C. Wine Industry extended their support to their colleagues in California.

“A couple of our wineries have relationships with wineries in California and a lot of winemakers in the Okanagan and B.C. have spent time over their years of their careers over in California,” said B.C. Wine Institute president, CEO Miles Prodan.

Quails' Gate sister winery Madrone Estate at the Valley of the Moon is still standing, but many of its neighbours are not.

"Our hearts are with everyone who has been impacted by the fires," said Tony Stewart, CEO of Quails' Gate Winery. "The wine industry is renowned for working together and never has that been more apparent than in these frightening times."

Prodan said they are always amazed and continually surprised at how supportive everyone is.

“It really touched home for some local wineries here in Kelowna,” said Prodan. “Cedar Creek and St Hubertus & Oak Bay Estate Winery specifically having gone through that, we just want to make sure our friends and colleagues in California know that we are here standing by."

The Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund is collecting cash donations here:

  • GoFundMe pages dedicated to California fire relief
  • Donate to the Red Cross, which helps distribute disaster relief aid.
  • Donate to local animal shelters: Humane Society of Sonoma County, sonomahumane.org, Humane Society of Napa County: napahumane.org, and Yuba-Sutter SPCA: yubasutterspca.org. 
  • Local agencies have called for material supplies, including the Petaluma Police Department. Fast Company notes you can donate to the following food pantries: Food pantries of Napa County, Food pantries of Yuba County, and Food pantries of Sonoma County. The Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership is keeping an updated list of needs for fire victims.


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