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Wildfire west of Penticton deemed ‘under control’

Four days after it was discovered, the fire remains under investigation, but suspected person caused

The Green Mountain Rd. wildfire, close to Apex Mountain, grew to a size of 1.5 hectares over four days before BC Wildfire Service deemed it ‘under control’.

The fire has received sufficient suppression to ensure no further spread.

Located 18.3 kilometers west of Skaha Lake, the fire remains as of Monday (Sept. 7) under investigation but is suspected to be person caused.

The fire was discovered Friday (Sept. 4) afternoon.

READ MORE: GALLERY: BC Wildfire crews battling fire near Apex Mountain

READ MORE: Wildfire near Apex Mountain held at 1.5 hectares, threatening no structures

By 5:30 p.m. that night, the fire was 0.2 hectares in size, and had three helicopters, plus eight crew on scene. The fire, burning in steep terrain and visible from Green Mountain Rd., was reported at approx. 3:49 p.m. Several units from Penticton Fire Department attended first, supplying ground troops with water before turning the scene over to BC Wildfire Service.

Crews could be seen loading up with gear, hoses slung over their shoulders, before hiking up the mountainside toward the fire. The wind was calm, and both crew and onlooking residents were thankful for this.

Close by, about two kilometers down the road, several residents watched the fire while discussing what to do.

Dennis Shelbey pondered whether or not he should, like the neighbours, load his horses and take them into town.

“I’m just worried about other fires that spread so fast after being so small, so that’s why I’m going to hang out here probably for the night,” he said Friday.

Shelbey made the trip from town to watch over his cousin’s property, which is also where he keeps his two horses. If he had to, he would load up and drop off his horses at a stable in Penticton.

The lifelong local has never seen a fire this close to his cousin’s property, and this had him worried.

“That kind of freaks me out a little bit,” said Shelbey.

He said the response by firefighters to this fire was fast.

Just up the road, firefighting helicopters lowered to fill up in a lake, a small swamp nearby residents refer to as ‘fake lake’. This close water resource, just down the road from the fire, has allowed helicopters to drop water frequently.

“That’s what I like to see, them bomb it right away and knock it down so that it doesn’t get so carried away,” Shelbey said.

He looked at the ground behind him, a pasture covered in yellow grass. With just a well, there’s no option for irrigation to keep fields green.

“My pasture’s pretty dry, so I hope it doesn’t come over here.”

Overnight by Saturday morning, the fire had grown from 0.2 to 1.5 ha. By then, 13 BC Wildfire personnel were assigned to the fire, applying water and extinguishing hot spots.

Gagan Libhran, fire information officer with the Kamloops Fire Centre, said at the time the status of the fire remained ‘out of control’. Smoke could be seen in the area due to the smouldering ground fire.

On Monday, Libhran confirmed that the fire’s status was changed to ‘under control’. Thirteen personnel continued to work in the perimeter of the fire, extinguishing hot spots.

Four days after the fire was reported, it remains under investigation.

“Our Fire Origin Specialist is going to investigate if there was any lighting in the area outside of what we are aware of,” said Libhran, Saturday.

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Phil McLachlan

About the Author: Phil McLachlan

Phil McLachlan is the editor at the Penticton Western News. He served as the reporter, and eventually editor of The Free Press newspaper in Fernie.
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