Storm leaves North Okanagan residents powerless

Crews work on re-instating power Tuesday following Monday’s storm that forced a large pine tree down across Pleasant Valley Road next to the cemetery and took out a power pole.  - Jennifer Smith/Morning Star
Crews work on re-instating power Tuesday following Monday’s storm that forced a large pine tree down across Pleasant Valley Road next to the cemetery and took out a power pole.
— image credit: Jennifer Smith/Morning Star

A storm caused havoc Monday night, knocking power out for nearly 6,000 Vernon, Coldstream and Spallumcheen homes.

Trees blew down over power lines, some catching fire, and lightning even sparked a fire in the BX.

While BC Hydro restored power to the majority of residents Monday night, some were still in the dark Tuesday morning.

Approximately 271 customers living in and around Pleasant Valley Road (between 46th and 43rd avenues) were expected to have their power restored by noon Tuesday. Crews closed off the section of road to clean up the damage from a large pine tree that came crashing down across the road, next to the cemetery.

Tara-lynn Manke and her daughter Elizabeth were at the beach when the storm rolled in and they got a call that their home was narrowly missed by a power pole that the fallen tree took out.

“One of the workers told us: ‘that pole almost went into your place,’” said Manke, who lives in the Vernon Springs townhouses.

Thankfully no homes were damaged, but phone and cable lines were strewn across the front of houses and over cars along Pleasant Valley Road.

The wind storm put another nearly 6,000 residents in the BX, East Hill, Coldstream and surrounding areas out of power.

“Hydro crews were quite busy,” said BX-Swan Lake fire chief Bill Wacey, whose fire department also had a busy night manning trees on fire over power lines until Hydro crews could arrive. “Everybody was busy.

“We had seven call outs since Saturday morning between lightning and trees over wires.”

An aspen tree caught fire after it came down across a power line on L&A Road. A similar situation took place on Francis Street.

Fire crews were also busy trying to locate and extinguish lightning-caused fires.

Lightning struck down near Hartnell Road, causing a fire that crews were back up extinguishing Tuesday.

A lightning strike from more than a week ago also had firefighters busy on Saturday.

Lightning struck down off of Aspen Road in the BX July 27, and festered in the ground until resurfacing over the weekend.

“Lightning will go straight down into the roots,” explains Wacey.

“It sat down on the ground for a week and a bit and then popped up.”

While they did manage to douse the fire, with some help from the Wildfire Management Branch (WMB), a couple trucks sustained damage tackling the rough terrain.

“It was an extremely inaccessible area,” said Wacey of steep, shale-covered ground.

An WMB initial attack crew and forest officer were also in the Enderby/Mabel Lake road area Tuesday on a spot-sized lightning fire.

Lumby firefighters were also busy dousing a small brush fire caused by the lightning.

The entire Kamloops fire zone is in a moderate to high fire danger rating.

“With the continued hot and dry weather, it is expected this will climb to high and extreme by the week’s end,” said Michaela Swan, Fire Information Officer with the Kamloops Fire Centre.

The public is asked to be vigilant with the use of open fire, with the lightning storms over the last week it is anticipated additional fires will be discovered.

“It is essential WMB resources are able to respond to lightningcaused fires, not human-caused fires,” said Swan, noting that WMB is observing a 90-95 per cent compliance rate towards the campfire regulations, however some campfires are still being unattended, or built too large.

There were 18 abandoned campfires in the Vernon fire zone over the long weekend.



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