A view of the Okanagan Mountain Park fire on Wednesday from the west side of the lake. Photo: Kathy Michaels/Capital News

Lakeshore Drive businesses ‘prepared not scared’ in wake of wildfire

Wineries along with a boutique dairy farm are preparing for worst

Businesses near Lakeshore Road are preparing for the worst while simultaneously running business as usual.

With the Okanagan Mountain Park wildfire growing steadily to 400 hectares, along with a evacuation notice wineries and a boutique dairy farm are working quickly to store equipment and maneuver irrigation systems.

Carmeli’s Goat Cheese farm is taking precautions and has already found somewhere for their goats to stay in case of evacuation.

RELATED: Okanagan Mountain Park wildfire now an estimated 400 hectares

“We are doing well here, obviously there is a little bit of anxiety— we don’t know what is going on or what is going to happen, but as of right now we are business as usual here,” Thomas Carmeli said.

During the 2003 fire Thomas’ parents were running the business and the farm was damaged on the hillside. Carmeli noted he does not think the fire will harm the farm like it did 15 years ago.

“You can still see the damage from the 2003 fire, we don’t have a lot of new growth, just rock and the old burned trees, so it’s not a lot of fuel.”

CedarCreek Estate Winery has closed while B.C. Wildfire continues to work toward controlling the fire line.

RELATED: Updated: Complete list of B.C. Interior wildfire coverage

“We decided to shut down because we feel it’s hard to taste wine when there is smoke in the air and Lakeshore Road has a sign that states “local traffic only.”” Taylor Whelan, wine maker at CedarCreek said.

The winery is monitoring the fire closely and is taking preventative measures to protect the vineyard from the blaze.

“I am not too nervous, I have full faith in the fire service,” Whelan said.

Summerhill Pyramid Winery is clearing out the two fire-proof buildings on the property to make room for farm equipment they may have to store in there in case the fire extends onto their property.

“We are being cautious, preparing for potential evacuation and getting the property in order,” Ezra Cipes, CEO said. “We are prepared, but not scared.”

The winery is still open and operating at full capacity through the fires, however guests did not sit on the patio while dining during lunch in the restaurant due to the smoke.

St Hubertus & Oak Bay Estate Winery Ltd. is cautious after experiencing extensive damage from the 2003 fires.

“This fire started at the same place as it did in 2003, we are concerned because we were seriously impacted by those fires,” Leo Gebert said. “Any smoke from the valley—you can feel the way people get nervous.”

RELATED: Flicked cigarette butt sparks small fire

The winery has no plans on closing its doors to guests until required to, in 2003 the building was open an hour before being told they needed to evacuate.

“We are lucky, where we are we have two roads we can leave by, Lakeshore Road and Stella Drive, other places further down only have Lakeshore,” Gebert said.

This year Gebert feels confident that the same damage will not reoccur due to their older irrigation system that covers a larger surface space.

For updates on all wildfires in the Okanagan visit our updated list of all fires in the area.

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