Smith Creek Wildfire: Fire chief, residents watch blaze from Shannon Ridge Park

Air support drops fire retardant near the Smith Creek wildfire Friday morning. - Wade Paterson/Capital News
Air support drops fire retardant near the Smith Creek wildfire Friday morning.
— image credit: Wade Paterson/Capital News

Shannon Ridge Park offered one of the best vantage points for watching the Smith Creek wildfire Friday morning.

West Kelowna Fire Chief Wayne Schnitzler was there with several other emergency officials, keeping an eye on the overall fire activity.

"Once you're in the bush and you're fighting that fire, your crews can't see what's going on," said Schnitzler.

"So we're really the eyes for those groups."

Schnitzler said the fire moved overnight above the Tallus Ridge subdivision.

The cooler Friday morning temperatures restricted the fire's activity; however, the wind continued to give firefighters a challenge.

"We were hoping (the wind) wouldn't come back today. So that's going to probably dictate the fire behaviour over the afternoon."

Spot fires came within 100 feet of some homes, according to Schnitzler. Crews were able to quickly knock down the smaller fires before they could come too close to threatening homes.

Crews have also brought in sprinkler protection units from the province to protect areas that may be a problem in the future.

Schnitzler said West Kelowna firefighters are starting to feel the affects of a busy week that's seen three significant fires in the area.

"Our neighbouring communities started to come in and help and give our crews some time to rest…it's not often we get three fires like we've had this week."

He added firefighters are still mopping up the Mount Boucherie fire, which began Tuesday.

Emergency crews have had more time to plan during this fire than they did during the 2009 Glenrosa fire.

"In Glenrosa we didn't have time to plan, we just had to get people out because it was such a wind-driven wildfire.

"This one is wind-driven, but we still have time to strategically plan on moving people, to make the right decisions to keep them safe."

The fire chief wasn't the only one taking advantage of the Shannon Ridge Park vantage point Friday.

Several residents stood in the park and watched air support attack the blaze.

A few people even brought lawn chairs out to watch the firefighting effort.

Barry and Darci Yeo, owners of Bliss Bakery and Bistro, visited Shannon Ridge Park Friday to bring coffee, water and snacks to emergency personnel.

"We've been here for almost a decade now…our business has been evacuated twice (and) personally we've been evacuated as well," said Barry.

"We have the ability to help these (crews) out a little bit…a lot of (them) were called out at 5 or 6 a.m. and they've had nothing to eat."

Twitter: @PatersonWade





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