West Kelowna  

Hot spots cause anxiety for Traders Cove resident who plans to move to less fire-prone area

Hot spots cause anxiety

A woman who lives in the Traders Cove area says her family plans to move out of the community for the sake of their mental health.

Mel Walsh, her partner and their blended family of five kids moved from a property along Westside Road to a new rental on Traders Cove Road at the beginning of August. Just two weeks later, the McDougall Creek wildfire cut a swath through the community, leaving some homes untouched but reducing others to ash.

One of the properties that was destroyed was her old home on Westside Road. As she was driving by Monday morning she noticed smoke rising from the rubble of the home. She called it in and says a Wilson’s Landing firefighter just happened to be passing by and stopped to help deal with the hot spots.

The home she and her family currently rent survived the fire, but even going back after the evacuation order was lifted is causing anxiety. It’s the second time they have been forced to evacuate their home for weeks because of a wildfire.

Walsh lived in Fort McMurray in 2016 and was part of the largest wildfire evacuation operation in Alberta history. The place she rented in Fort McMurray survived, but all her possessions were destroyed by smoke.

“I never thought we would live through two 30 day evacuations,” said Walsh. The family is now contemplating a move back to Alberta, to somewhere not in a wildfire zone.

While they are able to clean most of their possession at her Traders Cove rental, she says the stark landscape that remains and the prospects of hot spots are just too close to home and her children are not taking it well. She is also experiencing survivor’s guilt.

She’s pondering writing a book about her experience with both fires. “I think it might be good therapy to get it all down.”

The BC Wildfire Service reminds the public that even though the McDougall Creek wildfire is now listed as being held and is no longer considered a wildfire of note, hot spots will likely be visible for some time.

“Even though it is cooler and wetter and the fire is being held (meaning that it is not likely to spread under the current conditions) but that being said, it is common with larger wildfires to see smoke within the perimeter going forward until there is significant rainfall or snow comes,” explained BCWS fire information officer Casda Thomas.

She says anyone who spots smoke outside the perimeter or in an area of concern should report it.

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