Fond memories and community sympathies are being shared on social media after the Westside Road community learned the beloved Little Kingdom Gas Station was lost in the 62,273-hectare White Rock Lake wildfire overnight Sunday, Aug. 15.
“Everyone had so much love for this store,” said one Facebook user. “I just can’t believe it’s gone.”
While the loss has yet to be confirmed by the Okanagan Indian Band or BC Wildfire Services, photos of what remains of the structure were forwarded to Black Press.
BC Wildfire Services confirmed “significant damage,” to several buildings around Westside Road.
The Regional District of Central Okanagan said between 50 and 60 buildings were damaged overnight in Ewings Landing and Killiney areas and an assessment of the damage would begin this afternoon (Monday, Aug. 16).
“Multiple structures in the Killiney area experienced significant damage overnight as drought conditions and high winds increased fire action on the White Rock Lake Fire,” the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations said Aug. 16.
Photographs of the community’s general store were shared widely on social media Sunday night, with the out-of-control blaze glowing behind it.
“Beyond devastated for all the loss in my community,” wrote Kelsie Kilawna on the Vernon & Area Community Forum, sharing the photo. “There are no words.”
“If this is confirmed, it is a huge loss for the community,” wrote Wendie Rodd Voss. “Our hearts are breaking for the OKIB. Hopefully, the firefighters can contain this monster before it consumes anything more.”
Fire activity was so intense Sunday night, BCWS firefighters trying to battle the blaze in the Killiney area overnight weren’t able to leave until around 2 a.m, the provincial agency said.
Crews were pulled back for safety purposes, but travel along local roads wasn’t safe either and they sheltered in place in Westshore Estates until conditions improved.
Firefighters worked on protecting buildings overnight around the Six Mile area and along Okanagan Lake near Fintry Park or Ewing.
More than 140 firefighters from various fire departments across the province continue to work to protect homes and businesses in the communities of Westwold, Falkland, Cedar Hills, Pinaus Lake, Paxton Valley, and communities along Westside Road (Westshore Estates, Killiney Beach, Valley of the Sun), including Okanagan Indian Band IR#1.