by Dave Preston
Fire crews have made good headway on the Trepanier Fire, which is now reported to be 50 per cent contained.
The fire, which broke out shortly after 3 p.m. Sunday has claimed three homes in Peachland and one abandoned home in the Central Okanagan West electoral area, according to Elsie Lemke, Peachland’s CAO.
Lemke spoke to reporters at a media conference at Number One Firehall in Kelowna.
“Our hearts go out to the property owners,” said Lemke.
A local state of emergency was put in place at 4:50 p.m. Sunday, according to Mayor Keith Fielding.
“Our thoughts are with those who have suffered loss,” said Fielding.
“I have the utmost confidence in the emergency personnel working on this fire,” Fielding said.
As of Monday morning, 450 people had registered at an Emergency Support Services reception centre in West Kelowna and another 175 registered at a similar facility in Summerland.
Any evacuees who need assistance are asked to go the Westbank Lions Hall on Main Street in West Kelowna.
“The crews worked hard and saved many homes,” said Peachland’s Fire Chief Grant Topham. “We had crews patrolling all night, putting out hotspots and flare ups.”
Topham said he has 17 fire trucks and 65 structural firefighters working on the fire Monday morning.
Jim Mottishaw, incident commander from the BC Forest Service, said there is a large contingent of forestry firefighters and equipment working the Trepanier Fire.
The fire was a “wind driven event”, according to Mottishaw. Fanned by high winds Sunday afternoon, the fire exhibited extreme behavior of Rank 4 to 5 on a scale of 1 to 6.
“The evacuation from our perspective went very well,” said RCMP Cnsts. Kris Clark. He said numerous officers are patrolling evacuated areas and manning checkpoints throughout Peachland.
The entire Trepanier and Ponderosa areas of Peachland and the Clements Crescent area, including Peachland Centre Mall, remain on evacuation order. All of Peachland between Hwy. 97 and Okanagan Lake is on evacuation alert.
Peachland Elementary School students will likely be going to school in a new location, at least for a few days, according to Superintendent Hugh Gloster.
The school is under an evacuation order. If that order has not been lifted by Tuesday, students and staff are to report to George Pringle Elementary School in West Kelowna for classes.
Gloster said even if the evacuation order is lifted, Peachland Elementary School may not open to students right away. Staff will have to go into the school to determine if there has been smoke damage.
A bus is scheduled to meet up with elementary students at 8:10 a.m. on Beach Avenue at the old Primary School building to take them to George Pringle.