Bride-to-be Ronny Kwetny (right) is looking for another wedding venue for Saturday after evacuation orders were issued for Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards. - Contributed

Wildfire evacuation order forces bride to search for new wedding venue

Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards is under an order due to the Mount Eneas wildfire south of Peachland

A wildfire located to the south of Peachland has left a Coquitlam couple scrambling to find a new wedding venue after an evacuation order was issued for Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards.

Bride Ronny Kwetny choked back tears as she said her wedding, scheduled for Saturday, can’t be held at the vineyards because of the Mount Eneas wildfire in the area and the road closures along Highway 97.

“Right now we’re just trying to find a venue, but it’s hard because everywhere is busy, or they have smoke already, but we’re trying to get everything organized,” she said.

Kwetny said she received the news while on Shuswap Lake for her bachelorette party.

“No one wanted to ruin my time here, my family has known about it since yesterday,” she said. “We love to travel and the Okanagan has a really special place in our heart and this really sucks that this happened because it’s our dream place.”

Gordon Fitzpatrick, president of the vineyard which is located off of Highway 97, said an evacuation order went out Wednesday night for the Greata Ranch area, but staff stayed longer to get the irrigation system set up to protect the property.

“We got back on site early this morning, the winery and vineyard are all fine. We did have some anxious moments last night, but the facilities and everything are fine,” he said.

The wildfire, located to the west of the winery, has scorched the land, he said.

Fitzpatrick said the wedding may go ahead if the evacuation order is rescinded and he has been making calls to find a new venue.

“The winery and vineyard did escape and there wasn’t any damage. We had our sprinklers on and the firefighters were able to put it out,” he said.

A concert series was also cancelled at the winery, “but people are very understanding,” Fitzpatrick said.

He said he could feel the heat from the winery, but when it jumped the road near the north field of the winery, they worked quickly to extinguish it.

“So what I was most concerned about last night was if it would jump,” he said. “Really the only defence you have is strategic. But when it gets like that it’s pretty much Mother Nature.”

The Mount Eneas wildfire was 500 hectares in size as of Thursday afternoon and caused traffic closures and delays along Highway 97. Evacuation orders were issued Wednesday for properties in the Brent Road and Greata Ranch area, including all campsites at Okanagan Lake Provincial Park.

If you know of a wedding location that can be used on short notice, contact Kwetny at 778-300-3745.

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carli.berry@kelownacapnews.com

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