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Joe Rich residents splashed with boil water advisory


Efforts to find a new well in an Okanagan community have degraded water quality in an existing one.

As a result, a boil-water advisory has again been issued for approximately 150 people served by the Falcon Ridge system in the Joe Rich area, east of Kelowna.

People are advised to boil the water for one minute before using, disinfect it by adding two drops of household bleach per litre of water, or use bottled water.

The area has suffered from poor water quality for years, with frequent boil advisories. Some exploratory drilling has been done to find a new water source, but that activity has increased the cloudiness of water drawn from the existing wall, regional and health authorities say.

Evacuation order still in effect


An aerial assessment this morning of the Trepanier forest fire evacuation area has revealed it is not safe enough for any more people to return to their homes.
It’s anticipated the earliest any change might be made to the evacuation order for Peachland residents is later this afternoon.
The air scan for hotspots has found at least 65 areas of concern in backyards and close to homes, including the Coldham Road area.
As a result of the aerial assessment, there is also no change in the evacuation status for approximately 17 property owners in the Regional District of Central Okanagan. This includes Star Place and addresses along upper Trepanier Road.

Winter arrives in the Valley

A village webcam shot of Big White Ski Resort on Tuesday shows that winter is not far off... which means neither is ski season. A storm that blew through the Okanagan left snow at the Kelowna mountain as well as at Silver Star near Vernon.

No changes today to Peachland fire evacuation orders and alerts

Here's the latest news from the Central Okanagan Emergency Operation Centre, which says there will be no changes the the evacuation orders and alerts from the Perachland fire until Wednesday at the earliest.


The Central Okanagan Emergency Operation Centre advises that there will be no further anticipated changes in the Evacuation Order and Alert areas until mid-morning tomorrow at the earliest.

This is based on the need to ensure public safety and that all areas are safe before allowing residents to re-enter.

Local government staff has been and are continuing an extensive effort to identify and where possible remove hazards that could threaten the safety of residents.  Among these hazards are dangerous trees, falling limbs and ground threats (unexpected holes) as well as ensuring infrastructure (electricity) is intact.  There have also been small isolated active fires identified in the Evacuation area.

Emergency Operation Centre staff are consulting with and constantly reviewing conditions from the field and are working with Incident Commanders to provide guidance on when conditions are safe for residents to return to their homes.

The EOC recognizes the inconvenience faced by the estimated 258 evacuated residents and their families.  There have not been any reported incidents of injuries so far from either first responders or the public.  This is in line with the BC Emergency Management Program which makes safety the top priority.  Everyone involved in the response to the Trepanier forest fire wants to keep that record intact.

It’s anticipated an update on the status of the Evacuation Order and Alerts will be available later tomorrow morning.

Evacuated residents may receive assistance with food, lodging and clothing by visiting the Emergency Support Services reception centre at the Westbank Lions Community Hall, 2466 Main Street in West Kelowna.  ESS will be available until 6:00 pm this evening and will re-open at 9:00 am Wednesday morning.

A comprehensive map of Evacuation Order and Evacuation Alert areas is available on .

A total of 1,292 people are still on an Evacuation Alert.

BC Hydro continues to work in the fire zone removing hazard trees and replacing several poles damaged as a result of the fire. Power may be off for residents in the Coldham Road and Trepanier Road area, from Upton and Trepanier to end of Trepanier past Hwy 97C, until approximately 9:00 p.m. tonight for repairs to the electrical infrastructure.

The District of Peachland will be in setting up a Recovery Office to support residents who have been affected by the Trepanier Forest Fire. Contact information and further details will be provided on Wednesday.

Information for Residents on Evacuation Alert

Those returning to the area are reminded that hazardous conditions may still exist on private properties.  The public is requested to stay out of fire-affected areas for their own safety.

The Emergency Management BC’s website provides some important information for those returning to their homes after an evacuation.  The booklet One Step at a Time – A Guide to Disaster Recovery can be found at:

Interior Health also provides some useful information for residents returning to their homes.  It deals with exposure to smoke from forest fires, food safety, water quality and septic tanks and disposal fields and can be found on its website Emergency Preparedness page:

The Emergency Operation Centre reminds all residents that although the fire affected area may appear safe, serious hazards still remain.  The hazards listed below may not represent all the hazards you may come across.  Please be cautious!

·         Widow Makers – are burnt trees with little or no limbs that have limited structural support and may fall silently at any time.

·         Easy Bake Ovens – burning root structures that leave the surrounding ground unstable and extremely hot.  The roots can burn for days and are extremely dangerous.  These areas may appear as “dinosaur footprints” and must be avoided at all times.

·         Falling Limbs – may occur in any area where trees have been exposed to the fire!

·         Electrical Hazards – Please be aware of fallen power lines (and other utility lines) and power poles affected by the fire.  Some poles may be unstable.  Treat all fallen lines with extreme caution.  If you come across a utility line that may be activated, contact the necessary utility company.

·         Structural Hazards – Some of the homes affected by the fire may have structural hazards, fall hazards, and potentially dangerous gas pockets.  Avoid private properties at all times.  Standing chimneys and walls may appear to be sound.  Be aware the concrete in these structures may be fragile due to excessive heat that may collapse at any time.

·         General Site Safety – Emergency response personnel may be active in many of the areas you are working.  Please DO NOT block access to streets.

·         Wild Animals – The fire may have affected wild animals in the area.  If you spot a bear, cougar, or other animal in distress, please keep your distance and contact the conservation officer service.

New information and updates on the Evacuation Orders and Alerts will be available on the Regional District Emergency Program website  and updates will also be there and released to the media as soon as it becomes available. Media can contact (250) 469-8493 if needed. Public inquiries can be directed to 1-877-569-8490.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 September 2012 23:57

Evacuation order partially lifted



The evacuation order has been lifted for more than 1,100 Peachland residents forced from their homes by the Trepanier wildfire.

"Thanks to favourable weather conditions and excellent firefighting efforts, a portion of the area under evacuation order has been reclassified to an evacuation alert area," says a news release from the Central Okanagan Regional District. "Although residents on the following roads are free to return to their homes, they are reminded that they are on evacuation alert and must still be prepared to leave with little notice."

Here is a list of streets affected:

·         Peachland Elementary School
·         Clements Crescent, including the commercial area
·         Chidley Road
·         1st Avenue
·         2nd Avenue
·         3rd Avenue
·         4th Avenue
·         6th Avenue
·         7th Avenue
·         Pincushion Place
·         Ponderosa Drive
·         Ponderosa Place
·         Clarence Road
·         Greata Road
·         Lang Road
·         Lornell Crescent
·         Lornell Court
·         MacNeill Court
·         Morrison Crescent
·         Morrison Place
·         Shaw Road
·         Sutherland Road
·         Walker Road
·         The following properties on Trepanier Bench Road: 5149, 5151, 5155, 5161, 5165, 5178, 5180, 5217, 5227, 5237, 5329, 5240, 5250, 5260, 5270, 5280, 5290, 5325, 5335
·         The following properties on Huston Road:
·   5108, 5122, 5132, 5136, 5146, 5164, 5178, 5192, 5200, 5208, 5216, 5224, 5232, 5236, 5242, 5246, 5250, 5256, 5262, 5274, 5280, 5286, 5292, 5300, 5334, 5348, 5350, 5352, 5354, 5356, 5358

There are still more than 400 people on evacuation order.

Also, the Evacuation Alert involving properties east of Highway 97 has now been lifted, including the downtown and waterfront areas from Princeton Avenue to Robinson Place, affecting 432 people.

(Photo credit: Bo Skapski)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 September 2012 01:42

Okanagan loses a bit of history in Peachland fire


Hainle Winery in Peachland is pictured.

Tilman Hainle lost his boyhood home in the vicious wildfire that swept down a mountainside near this lakeside Okanagan community Sunday, but Canada lost a piece of history.

The house where Hainle grew up sat abandoned on a former vineyard Hainle had worked for 40 years, the result of a decision to sell the property to a developer last May.

(Pictured is Hainle Winery in Peachland.)

It was also the property where Canada’s first commercially released icewine was created in 1978. Hainle was a teenager when he and his father collaborated on the first of what would become the signature Canadian product.

“It’s a time for mixed emotions,” Hainle said in a sober interview Monday, hours after officials confirmed the house and three other homes were destroyed by the blaze.

“It certainly has a lot of significance, not just in terms of our history but it’s a significant piece of Canadian wine history as well.”

Hainle, 53, said his parents purchased the property in the early 1970s and became among the first in the area to plant European grapes. The creation of the icewine was a product of a father-son experiment.

“We didn’t realize at the time it was so significant,” he said.

Hainle has spent decades in the wine business, with the family vineyard expanding to a surrounding property over the years.

In 2002, the Hainle Vineyard Estate Winery was sold to another operator, while Hainle downsized to the original family homestead and operated a winery and bed and breakfast as the Working Horse Winery, so-named because of the horses he used to help with the work.

Hainle, who now lives on Vancouver Island and is a global winery consultant, said Monday his family was always aware there were fire hazards around the property because it’s an arid part of the province and the vineyard was up against the woods.

“It’s a very fortunate thing that we weren’t operating and had guests on the property or had to worry about getting the horses out in such a hurry like some of the neighbours did.”

The strong winds that sent the fire barrelling toward this lakefront community proved too much for firefighters attempting to keep the blaze away from homes, with gusts of wind acting like flame throwers and destroying four houses.

The fire, which started Sunday near Peachland and moved three kilometres in a little more than an hour, continued to send thick clouds of white smoke over the community Monday, with more than 1,500 residents remaining under an evacuation order.

— The Canadian Press

Flame-thrower wind torches 4 Peachland homes

A home destroyed by the Peachland fire Sunday.

The strong winds that sent a fire barrelling towards this lakefront community in British Columbia’s Okanagan proved too much for firefighters attempting to keep the blaze away from homes, with gusts of wind acting like flame throwers and destroying four houses.

The fire, which started Sunday near Peachland and moved three kilometres in a little more than an hour, continued to send thick clouds of white smoke over the community Monday, with more than 1,500 residents under an evacuation order.

Three homes and an abandoned house were destroyed, fire officials said, along with several out buildings in the northern and western edges of town. No one was injured.

“The wind was blowing very hard in that area,” Peachland’s fire chief, Grant Topham, told a news conference Monday.

“We had the crews in there and they saved many, many homes. The wind blew the fire into those homes. They tried to save them as best they could; they tried their best. They saved many homes, but unfortunately, there were some they could not, did not save.”

Hundreds more people remain on evacuation alert.

The fire started near a park on the northern edge of Peachland, a community of about 5,200 located 380 kilometres northeast of Vancouver, but it wasn’t clear what caused it. Wind gusts as strong as 50 kilometres an hour fuelled the fire, which quickly grew to two square kilometres.

On Monday, 65 firefighters were at work with the help of water tankers, 17 fire trucks and half a dozen water-bombing helicopters. By mid-morning, officials said they considered the fire 50 per cent contained after a night of cooler temperatures and rain slowed the fire’s spread.

Topham said crews had made progress, but the fire wasn’t under control yet.
“We have areas where there are hot spots, there are trees that are still burning, there are stumps that are still burning,” he said.

“We are expected to get up to possible 50-kilometre winds. We may or may not get rain.”
Elsie Lemke, director of emergency operations for the District of Peachland, said officials were working to contact the residents whose homes were destroyed, but she wasn’t sure how long that might take.

“Our hearts go out to the property owners who have suffered loss because of this fire,” she said.

An emergency reception centre was set up in a community hall in nearby West Kelowna, where volunteers were taking down contact information and offering free hotel stays and other supplies to people who needed it.

Eddie Stadelman, 78, stopped by and secured a two-night stay for him and his wife, who were told to evacuate Sunday evening.

Stadelman said they were about to sit down for “a happy hour,” when gusts of wind prompted him to walk outside to have a look around.

“I looked up and there was smoke, and I knew there was going to be trouble,” said Stadelman, a retired Toronto firefighter.

Stadelman gathered photos, important documents and keepsakes, certain that the evacuation order was only a matter of time. Soon after, a police officer driving by with a loud speaker proved him correct.

“We expected to be evacuated because that wind was blowing and that smoke was rolling,” he said.

“In my mind, I have an escape plan. We had everything, so we just picked it up and put it in the car.”

Stadelman said he can see his house from the highway that runs just north of town, and he could see it was untouched.

Thick smoke lifting up from the mountains to the west of Peachland drifted over town, leaving the taste and smell of burnt wood in the air.

The buzz of helicopters was constant, as a steady stream of water bombers flew to Okanagan Lake before returning to douse the blaze.

The sky had been clear earlier in the morning, but eventually clouded over and residents were hopeful for the forecast that predicted rain.

On the other hand, the winds remained strong, picking up intensity as the day wore on.
Ron Polak noted the increasing winds with worry, wondering whether he and his wife would soon be among those forced out of their homes.

“From my house, through the trees, you can see a lot of smoke,” said the 50-year-old carpenter.

“It was a pretty late night for us.”

Polak said he first heard about the fire from a friend who was watching it from across the street.

“He actually phoned and said he was having some fun watching the fire, and then he got a little nervous and a bunch of us went there and got his stuff out of there and got him out,” he said.

“Next thing I knew, we were trying to get back into town to get other people out.”

Polak noted everyone in the Okanagan is respectful of the awesome power of forest fires. The arid region is home to award-winning wineries, but the same dry conditions that make vineyards a success can pose a forest fire hazard during dry summers.

Nine years ago, a late August forest fire around Kelowna, 25 kilometres up the road from Peachland, forced 27,000 people from their homes and eventually destroyed 239 homes.

“Everybody’s pretty conscious (about the fire risk). It’s the reality,” Polak said.

“2003 was a pretty big fire, but that was on the other side of the lake. This is more in your backyard.”

— The Canadian Press

Last Updated on Monday, 10 September 2012 22:52

Four homes confirmed destroyed by wildfire


Fire officials have confirmed that three homes in Peachland have been destroyed by the Trepanier wildfire and one abandoned home in the Central Okanagan West Electoral Area.

Numerous outbuildings have also been impacted. Emergency personnel are formulating a damage assessment and are in the process of notifying affected property owners. Victim Witness Services are working with Emergency Support Services to offer assistance to

affected families.

Peachland Fire Department is receiving support from BC Forestry and neighbouring fire departments including West Kelowna, Kelowna, Lake Country, Summerland, Penticton, North Westside, Ellison and Joe Rich.

Approximately 1,550 people have been ordered to evacuate, with a further 432 placed on evacuation alert. The fire is estimated at 200 hectares and is 50 per cent contained.

Approximately 65 structural firefighters, 70 BC Wildfire Management Branch Firefighters, 17 structural fire apparatus and six helicopters and four water tenders are fighting the fire today.

RCMP and Central Okanagan Search and Rescue volunteers continue to staff checkpoints to ensure security within the Evacuation Area.  Until the Evacuation Order is rescinded, no one will be allowed within the area unless authorized by emergency personnel.

Morning update on Peachland wildfire


BC Wildfire Management crews and firefighters from across the Central Okanagan monitored the Peachland Forest Fire overnight, and it is estimated at 200 hectares this morning.

Crews were helped by cooler overnight temperatures, showers and low winds, although winds have been increasing over the past few hours.

A press conference at 11 a.m. this morning will update the situation. 

Emergency Personnel are conducting a detailed damage assessment and are working to notify affected property owners. More information on properties impacted is expected to be released later today, although unofficial reports say four homes were burned in the blaze.

RCMP and Central Okanagan Search and Rescue volunteers continue to staff checkpoints to ensure security within the Evacuation Area.  Until the Evacuation Order is rescinded, no one will be allowed within the area.

The fire forced approximately 1,550 people from their homes and an estimated 432 people in the downtown and waterfront areas of Peachland remain on Evacuation Alert and should be prepared to leave their homes on little or short notice in the event an expanded evacuation is necessary.

The Emergency Social Services Reception Centre for evacuated residents requiring assistance with food, lodging or clothing should register at the Westbank Lions Community Centre, 2466 Main Street in West Kelowna.  The Reception Centre in Summerland has been closed.

Highway 97 remains open to two way traffic and Highway 97-C is also open to traffic.  Check for the latest information and any changes in status.

Fire burns above Peachland: 'It was a huge pillar of smoke'



At least 1,000 Peachland residents are being evacuated and a state of emergency has been declared as an aggressive wildfire sweeps down on the community.

Fanned by strong winds, the fire exploded in only a few hours to well over 100 hectares.

RCMP Const. Steve Holmes says the fire to the west of the Okanagan community, in an area called Trepannier Bench on the west side of Okanagan Lake, was spotted this afternoon and was quickly whipped into a major burn by 30- to 40-kilometre an hour winds.

An evecuation alert was issued at 7 p.m. for the resendential area all the way down to Highway 97, from Seventh to First avenues.

“We’re dealing with a pretty unpredictable fire,” Holmes said.

RCMP officers conducting highway speed patrols noticed the fire around 3 p.m. Sunday and called it in.

“Right away, the fire took off,” he said.

Within a half hour of the report authorities issued the evacuation order “because it was moving extremely fast.”

“Our biggest issue has been with Mother Nature, which is the high winds we’ve been experiencing in the area, and the unpredictability,” Holmes said. “They’ve been changing direction and they’ve been driving a lot of smoke, a lot of flames down towards Highway 97 as well as smoke up onto the 97 Connector.”

Some residents could see the approaching flames as the order went out. “People were very co-operative in leaving the area,” Holmes said.

** Click here to see some photos of the fire.

Fire information officer Kevin Skrepneksaid at least a dozen firefighters from Penticton are on scene, as well as 60 BC Forest Service firefighters in three sustained action crews are there or on their way.

Five helicopters, seven air tankers, two spotters are attacking from the sky.

Coun. Mohini Singh saw the fire while she was driving in the area and said it was "huge."

"There are a couple of houses in there — it was very close to homes," said Singh. "It was a huge, huge, huge pillar of smoke."

She said the flames were licking all the way to the tops of the trees.

The fire is burning very close to Peachland elementary school.

"It doesn't look like the school's in danger," said J.P. Squire, The Daily Courier reporter on the scene.

About three helicopters are dropping water on the fire, he said.

"The fire is going right up the hillside, and if you look at the top of the hillside: house, house, house, house," he said. "Huge flames. It's just racing across from from one grassy spot to the next."

Reached on his cellphone, Peachland Mayor Keith Fielding said he couldn't confirm the number of homes evacuated because he was caught up in the emergency.

"My house is almost on fire," he said before hanging up.

An emergency operations centre has been set up in nearby Kelowna, and evacuees were directed to an emergency registration centre at the Westbank Lions Club.

** Click here for a list of streets in Peachland affected by the evacuation order.

** Click here for the second list of evacuation orders and alerts.

Drive BC said Highway 97 is open to single-lane traffic. Cars are lined up almost all the way to Gorman Bros. mill.

B.C. forestry crews are now attacking the fire with planes.

Walter Huber, a winemaker at Hainle Vineyards, told CBC News that the fire is about two kilometres from him.

"I have been walking up to the vineyards and it looks like the whole mountain is on fire on the other side," he told CBC.

"There's lots of smoke, there's about five fire bombers in there right now and several helicopters so it has to be bigger ... It's right in a residential area where a lot of houses are, so a lot of people are evacuating. In fact, our neighbours are leaving right now," he said.

Last Updated on Monday, 10 September 2012 02:40

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