Similkameen grassfire put out within ‘a stones throw’ from homes

Bud Gottfriedson and his family was woken up when two grass fires were within 100 metres of his home at the side of Highway 3. Highway was closed 10 km east of Keremeos.

At about 4 a.m. Saturday morning, Bud Gottfriedson was woken up by a phone call saying a grassfire was burning just up from his house at the side of Highway 3 near the Lower Similkameen Indian Band office.

“All of us neighbours got a phone call,” he said Saturday afternoon. “It’s quite the adrenaline rush being woken up at 4 a.m. because of fire.”

A home support worker attended the house shortly after the call to evacuate his wife, who is in a wheelchair, and take her to the band office.

He and his daughter Rachel stayed to help fight the grassfire with neighbours.

As he and others started to work on the smaller fire burning up on the highway, a second fire, this one closer to his house, was spotted.

“I was standing by the tractor, so I could do a fire line or something. Then the fire popped up down below us. It was a little tense, the wind was blowing pretty good. The wind was blowing straight at us,” he said.

Gottfriedson said about six homes were in the area of the grassfire.

Related: Update: Structures still at risk from Snowy Mountain fire

The Keremeos Volunteer Fire Department pulled its trucks and members from suppression efforts on Chopaka Road where 21 properties have been evacuated and are under threat from the Snowy Mountain wildfire. Other volunteer departments in neighbouring commutnies deployed to provide mutual aid for Keremeos also attended the grassfire.

Gottfriedson said the fire spread quickly and was about 70 metres from his home while it was a “stone’s throw away,” from other homes.

“It was close. I have a couple of out buildings on the property, tractors and farm vehicles all over the yard and horses in the barn,” he said.

The fires forced the closure of Highway 3 in the area for several hours in the early morning.

Crews and residents worked for about six hours to put the fires out. Several firefighters stayed to monitor for hot spots.

“It was too much stress for 4 a.m.,” he said.

Related:Keremeos firefighters working night patrols as Snowy Mountain fire rains ash, embers

BC Wildfire is investigating the cause of the fire, which they have deemed to be human-caused.

After taking about an hour nap after the fire was out, Gottfriedson took a helicopter ride to check on his grazing land on top Snowy Mountain.

He said his grazing area was untouched by the fire, but several other parcels of ranch land were torched.

“Imagine looking up there and there is nothing left but match sticks standing and the ground looks like briquets. The ground is grey and the trees are black,” he said.

Gottfriedson, who grew up in the area, said he’s never seen a fire like this.

“I’ve heard about 50 years ago or more, there was a big fire like this. But this is the biggest fire I’ve seen other than the few I’ve seen burning in Washington and Montana,” he said.

At the time of this posting the Snowy Mountain fire was almost 11,000 hectares in size and was considered out of control and zero per cent contained.

 

Just Posted

Mackenzie Interchange pump failure sends contaminated water into Colquitz River

Sediment release in salmon-bearing river a serious threat to aquatic life, says local activist

WATCH: Booze, weed both have fatal consequences

Video shows how easily impairment affects driving

Catch last call and a cheap ride home: Late night buses coming to Victoria in 2019

New plan will extend service on weekends with last trip leaving downtown at 3 a.m.

1,000 free Christmas meals served at Our Place

Community donations fuel support for those in need

Uvic to launch app to link drug users with Naloxone kits

Researchers have spent the last year developing the Nal-Pal app

Santa visits some of Victoria General Hospital’s littlest patients

Santa flew in to the hospital via air ambulance helicopter

READER POLL: Do you have turkey or ham for Christmas dinner?

What are you having for Christmas dinner? Canadians gobbled up 3.3 million… Continue reading

Lightning top Canucks 5-2 in feisty battle

NHL’s No. 1 team too much for Vancouver

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Dec. 18, 2018

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Bear cubs try to take Vancouver Island woman’s Christmas cookies

Incident happened in the early-morning hours today, Dec. 18, in Nanaimo

FortisBC says you can return to normal gas use following pipeline fire

Utility says increased pipeline capacity, warmer weather have allowed supply to reach normal levels

CSIS collected info on peaceful groups, but only in pursuit of threats: watchdog

Security Intelligence Review Committee says fears unjustified after reviewing evidence, testimony

Canada ranks 16th on annual gender gap list

This is the second year Canada has placed 16th in the World Economic Forum’s list

VIDEO: Tornado rips through city west of Seattle

Reports indicate five to seven homes damaged in Port Orchard, Wash.

Most Read