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

Candidates face questions on Nanaimo doorsteps about supportive housing and crime

Federal candidates asked about social issues on campaign trail

Review: Polish your language skills with The Foreigner

It’s all gibberish, but Charlie Baker’s personality receives a revamp in Chemainus Theatre production

Art studio takes over former St. Joseph’s School space in Chemainus

Public invited to a grand opening on May 1 to see what’s transpired

Lavigne possesses crooner qualities, to be Frank

Island tour starts this week and concludes in Chemainus with two shows May 11

First Nanaimo-Ladysmith all-candidates’ meeting is tomorrow

Six candidates expected to debate issues Thursday, April 25, at the Beban Park social centre

VIDEO: Killer whales hunt for seals in Vancouver harbour

Bigg’s killer whales feed on marine mammals like seals, sea lions, dolphins and even other whales

Island-born Snowbirds pilot enjoying homecoming in skies over Comox

Logan Reid once stood clinging onto the fence outside the Comox Air… Continue reading

Attack on student in Courtenay ‘way more than bullying’, says mom

A Comox Valley mother said “it was way more than bullying” at… Continue reading

Vancouver man, 19, charged in human trafficking case involving teen girl

The 16-year-old girl was reported missing and later discovered in Vancouver

Amber alert issued for 5-year-old Ontario boy

Ethan Montes is believed to be in the company of his mother, 47-year-old Juliet Mohammed

Blaine, Wash. inn owner, charged with smuggling people into B.C., granted bail

Robert Joseph Boule ordered to turn away anyone indicating a plan to enter Canada illegally

RCMP arrest B.C. man following threatening Vaisakhi Facebook post

Post made reference to pressure cooker bomb at massive Surrey parade

Most Read