A screengrab from a slow motion video taken on a cell phone during the lightning storm that came across the Okanagan on July 17. The photographer was at a residence on Hayman Road in Naramata and caught this lightning strike just north of Naramata around the Indian Rock area. Photo courtesy of Steve Taylor

South Okanagan firefighters save veteran’s house

33 members, with the help of B.C. Wildfire, protect Second World War veterans home from fire

Naramata volunteer firefighters skipped training on Tuesday night to put their skills into a real-life fire situation after a lightning strike hit 300 feet from a home.

“We had 33 members at the hall that night for practice, instead we went straight to the fire. That was our practice for the night,” said Naramata fire chief Tony Trovao.

Related: 911 jams causes panic during lightning strikes

When they arrived at the Naramata Road home belonging to 101-year-old John Stewart Hart, who was a pilot with the air force in the Second World War, firefighters saw the tires of a pickup truck starting to go up in flames.

Related: CF-18 Hornets flyby Penticton for Second World War veteran

Naramata firefighters evacuated the house and began their attack on the grass where the fire was starting to infringe upon and on the pickup truck to try and gain the upper hand. Trovao support from B.C. Wildfire came within 10 to 15 minutes in the form of helicopters dumping buckets of water on the fire.

Crews managed to keep the fire away from the house, digging guards for much of the night until the fire was finally considered out around 11 a.m. on Wednesday morning. Trovao said while the wind didn’t pose any challenges for the firefighters, something else did.

Related: Penticton fire department offers tips to stay safe during wildfire season

“We were dodging a few rattlesnakes. One came right in between all of us. A brave member corralled it using a garbage can and then it was taken way out in the boondocks of the property and released.”

Trovao said there is still four active wildfires, which he referred to as “smokers” in Naramata today.


Kristi Patton | Editor

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