Once again, an Okanagan community was threatened by wildfire.
What started out as a quiet Sunday in Peachland suddenly turned into anything but that. Evacuation alerts suddenly were posted. Residents told by police to leave their homes with barely a moment’s notice. Fire, police and emergency response officials scrambling to react to a raging forest fire emboldened with ideal burning conditions.
It’s all too familiar, the Trepanier fire becoming yet another community-threatening blaze sparked in our region.
Penticton’s brush with a catastrophic wildfire came in 1994, when the Garnet Valley blaze destroyed 18 homes and forced the evacuation of 3,500 people. Charred stumps still visible on hillsides above the city are a mute testament to just how close it came.
Then, in 2003, the Okanagan Mountain Park fire tore through neighbourhoods in the Upper Mission, earning a spot in the history books as the most significant interface wildfire event in B.C. history. That was followed by the Glenrosa fire that threatened to torch that West Kelowna neighbourhood, and the Terrace Mountain blaze that sent rural residents along the westside shores of Okanagan Lake fleeing for safety.
And now it’s Peachland’s turn in the second week of September, a time when one might think concern for forest fires might begin to wane. The fire season for our region starts in May and continues now, apparently, into September. That’s why we need to be thinking fire prevention all the time, evident by the scorched earth reminders.
Large fires and small pose a danger to those living in this valley, enjoying a great lifestyle living on the very doorsteps of nature. But the blaze that threatened Peachland is a reminder that no matter what time of year, there is a need for constant vigilance of how we interact with the environment, if we wish to preserve that lifestyle.