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Penticton  

'We could use a break'

Extreme natural weather events in the Okanagan have been especially unkind to rural Summerland residents in recent times.

As a result of the 1,374-hectare Mount Eneas wildfire, 30 Garnet Valley properties (north of Summerland) are evacuated, and more than 80 others are on evacuation alert. About 50 properties in Meadow Valley (northwest of Summerland) are on alert as well.

This wildfire risk follows the threat of the 2,200-hectare Finlay Creek wildfire 10 months ago, which led to 55 evacuations in Meadow Valley and 29 alerts in Garnet Valley, as well as nearly 100 alerts in Faulder (west of Summerland).

Not to be forgotten is the overland flooding during the spring, when all of those areas were under a state of local emergency.

"We could use a break," Meadow Valley resident Glenn Prochnau said with a laugh, who still had sandbags in place along the road from spring flooding when Castanet was in the area on Saturday.

Prochnau lives on Fish Lake Road, about three kilometres south of the current evacuation alert boundary. The nearby alert, though, was news to him; his home is out of cell service and he's been without power for more than two full days, along with nearly 250 other property owners.

"We've got to drive three miles to check the internet on our phones."

Despite another threat of fire, Prochnau said he and his neighbours aren't on edge like they were during the Finlay Creek wildfire, which came much closer to their homes.

"Last year it seemed more imminent... After that scare this year doesn't seem like any big deal." 

The same lack of worry likely isn't being felt for Garnet Valley residents, however. Flames from the Mount Eneas wildfire came dangerously close to homes earlier this week, but no structures were said to have been impacted.

Rural Summerland residents did, however, receive somewhat of a break on Saturday, as the Mount Eneas wildfire didn't grow for the first time since Wednesday. 

And Prochnau believes fire crews are set up for success to protect homes again in the area this year.

"It's almost the same fire [area] burning again. They've already made a 50-foot-wide swath where they've knocked all the trees, and everything that can burn, down. They've already done the fire protection.

"They did a great job last year and I'm sure they'll do it again."



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