British Columbia blaze mostly contained, 258 people still evacuated
Published Tuesday, September 11, 2012 8:12AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, September 11, 2012 7:01PM EDT
More than 250 residents of Peachland, B.C. remain evacuated from their homes Tuesday morning as firefighters work to stamp out small fires and hotspots around the Okanagan Valley town.
Just two days earlier, a 200-hectare fire threatened the town and more than 1,500 people were under mandatory evacuation orders.
Favourable weather conditions helped slow down the fire as the winds died down and the temperatures cooled.
As of Tuesday afternoon, 258 people remained under evacuation order and about 1,300 were on put on an evacuation alert in case the fire flares up again.
Another 1,134 people who had earlier been forced to evacuate their homes were allowed to return by Monday night.
Several buildings on the outskirts of town were also destroyed. No injuries have been reported.
By Sunday night, Central Okanagan Emergency Operations said the fire was 75 per cent contained but was still estimated to be about 200 hectares in size.
There was little predictability when it came to the homes that burned. In one case, a home was completely engulfed in flames while its neighbour was left unscathed.
The evacuated residents of the Peachland area, near Trepanier Creek on Okanagan Lake, stayed with family and friends or in local motels on Sunday night.
Some residents spent Tuesday washing fire retardant off their homes, garages and cars. The retardant was dropped by wildfire-fighting aircraft in an effort to save homes and buildings from destruction.
“They bombed exactly what they needed to,” Gordon McPherson told CTV British Columbia. “They saved our house. Whoever it was, I thank them. Thank you.”
Many residents who returned to find their homes intact were surprised that a raging wildfire could come so close but spare their properties from destruction.
“You know the fire line is right here and the house is what -- 30 or 40 feet away?” Peachland resident Walter Taylor said. “It's pretty close to a disaster."
The investigation into the source of the fire continues.
"We're very, very interested into what did cause this fire,” Dale Bojara of B.C. Forest Service said. “Certainly we didn't have any lightning on Sunday and this fire was a major impact to the community and we'd really like to know what the cause was."
With a report from CTV British Columbia and files from The Canadian Press