Sandbagging at Red Wing

The B.C. Wildfire Service turned their attention to the low-lying Red Wing Resort just north of Penticton on Sunday, adding an extra wall of sandbags between rising waters and homes.

One supervisor said they lost count how many sandbags the firefighters had laid out on Sunday, but said it counted in the thousands, with a pyramid-shaped barrier supplementing a three-bag-high wall set up by resident volunteers last week.

All last week, the provincial firefighters had been working around Penticton, sandbagging the city's shores along the Okanagan Lake, while Red Wing Resort had been left largely to its own devices, sitting just beyond the city's boundaries.

"One of the areas we look at is across the way (near the SS Sicamous), and we could look over here and we could see something going on, and we came across the dam and we came in here," City of Penticton manager of infrastructure said of his and CAO Peter Weeber's flood watch tours.

"We looked back and we saw raising lake levels and we see properties located to the west of that actually lower than lake level and three people trying to put up some sandbags."

While the city was working to protect infrastructure, Moroziuk says it was more important to concentrate efforts on protecting homes in the region.

"A decision was made that we were going to deploy this crew here and get this in place, and then we'll go back to doing our stuff tomorrow," Moroziuk said. 

Until now, Red Wing had been on its own to prepare for the rising lake, which can be a lot for a small community – as it is, even for a city like Penticton, which holds far greater resources.

"Any small community is faced with that. I mean, if we didn't have the wild land fire crews here, we would be, probably at this point, we would be calling on volunteers from the public to come forward and sandbag," Moroziuk said.

"Look at how many guys we've got here, and they're young and they're good at what they do and they come in here and get the job done. If you use city staff, we wouldn't have enough people to do this stuff."

Between Saturday and Sunday morning, the Okanagan Lake had risen another centimetre to 343.06 metres above sea level, according to the Regional District of Central Okanagan.

That has meant more sandbagging efforts all over the region, with firefighters previously working on Sunday at spots around Penticton. That included the Penticton Yacht Club, the area around the Romp statues and the SS Sicamous.

Firefighters said their next stop will be Osoyoos.

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